Read more about the article Nancy – France
Nancy - France

Nancy – France

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Not touched with impunity

Here we are once again at the brink of a longer and far holiday destination. Aiming for Tanzania as end point, however, on a very odd way that can easily make anyone lost and confused or even tipsy from thinking of what and awkward and long way with so many flights, but hey! if you are wondering why, it’s very simple: a while ago it popped in holidaypirates an amazing error fare flights we could not resist temptation and so this is us, on the first leg of this trip, well, sort of.

OK, enough of mystery. The original flights were Luxembourg City to Munich, Munich to Muscat, Muscat to Zanzibar and back on the same route, opposite way. How we ended up in Nancy then? Well, we’ve already been to Luxembourg before, so we had to separately book the London to Luxembourg return flights, allowing us an extra day and a half before connecting with the main flights, and planned in visiting the beautiful UNESCO listed city of Nancy taking advantage of this extra time. This was not actually the only great chance during this trip as I will be further explaining in the following guides, where our stop-over in Muscat was over 15 hours, all during the day and therefore another amazing city we could visit on the way. Crazy times, great trips! That’s the most exciting about travelling right?.

Coming to Nancy, it was in my agenda recently added as one of the destinations to visit in the near future during one of these weekend trips we usually fly abroad anywhere in Europe. And with all of the big and main cities already visited, and so the secondary ones, we are in the situation of having to research further and plan the trips to reach all these nice places you just simply cannot take a plane and land there. Most of the weekends this year have involved renting a car, otherwise this would have been impossible. (more…)

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Read more about the article Isle of Skye – United Kingdom
Isle of Skye - United Kingdom

Isle of Skye – United Kingdom

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Largest of the Inner Hebrides

Onto another of the great islands of the United Kingdom archipelago itself. The Isle of Skye, the largest of the Inner Hebrides. Coming from such an exuberant green, mountainous nature and incredible landscapes in the highlands region of Scotland, to this rather eerie landscapes, with such a variety of green and brown colours of the ground, almost no trees and so empty. A very beautiful place, fascinating scenery truly unique and worth every kilometre we did, enhanced by its characteristic coastline of peninsulas and bays radiating out from the mountainous core dominated by the Cuillin Hills.

The nearest “major” city to Skye is Inverness, where we did our base in the nearby and drove for a full day tour of the island. Driving to Skye was part of this great trip, passing through some of the most spectacular landscapes in Scotland and the world famous castle of Eilean Donan, our second time here by the way. The island size might not look big, however the longest distance is around 100 kilometres from edge to edge. I could not imagine any other way for really enjoying the island than by having your own transport because of the many places and spots to admire such as dramatic mountain landscapes, nature, views, villages, harbours, coastline and ancient prehistoric Iron and Bronze Age settlements.

A day is well more than enough for completing the entire circle without any rush giving you plenty of that extra time you will appreciate for stopping everywhere out of your original plans. Believe me when I tell you this will happen much often than you though. At every turn of the road a different landscape, a different view, and every time getting better and better. The good side in coming here during the summer months is the extra long hours of daylight you will have. Being that north, towards the end of June having sun at 23.00pm is normal, therefore that we could enjoy of an over-extended day! (more…)

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Read more about the article Inverness – United Kingdom
Inverness - United Kingdom

Inverness – United Kingdom

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The capital of the Highlands

It’s been many years like to try and make memory, but it’s always a good idea to return to places we can not hardly remember! Back then, perhaps year 2010, reaching Inverness was the farthest city in a huge Scotland road trip we did: Glasgow, The Forth, Edinburgh, Perth, Dundee, Aberdeen, Huntly, Dufftown, Elgin, Inverness, Fort Augustus, Fort William, Glencoe, Oban, Loch Lomond and who knows how many more in between. That was an incredible trip, the most beautiful ever anywhere withing the United Kingdom. But ever since, we’ve kept returning to Glasgow as a base for visiting other places, or just simply for revisiting the city itself as was the case only 2 weeks before this trip to Inverness.

Our plan was very different in any case: a road trip through the Isle of Skye. But, where’s the nearest airport? You’ve guessed it, Inverness. I will take nevertheless this chance for creating a nice travel guide for what is becoming at giant steps such an important tourist destination in Scotland. After all, who does not want to tick the checkbox in their travel bucket list, the Loch Ness? Well, while most of the people’s desires is this, let me tell you that Loch Ness, while being beautiful, cannot be compared to the most secluded and off-the-beaten path anywhere else through Scotland. Believe me when I tell you there are incredible places out of this world much more worth than Loch Ness itself, and what’s best in all this? Your main gateway to such incredible landscapes is right here! Inverness: The capital of the Highlands.

As for the city itself, it is really small when compared to the great Scotland cities such as Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen to name the biggest, but it’s nothing more beyond the riverside, its castle and a charming yet tiny medieval old town. (more…)

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Read more about the article Cuneo and Fossano – Italy
Cuneo - Italy

Cuneo and Fossano – Italy

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Among the vineyard landscapes of Piedmont

Our second part for this weekend, coming from our base in Turin was for visiting the small and beautiful Piedmont cities of Cuneo and Fossano. Another two places important to the once rich and wealthy House of Savoy Royal Family. While you will not find in here such impressive palaces as those in Turin and nearby, you can expect to see finely preserved medieval old towns built on top of the former perfect Roman grid of streets, containing countless churches, palaces and mansions, among nice parks, gardens and castles; and all with the perfect background of the Alps mountain range, highly likely with snowy tops during the summer months or full of snow during winter and spring, and among the world famous vineyard landscapes, designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Quite an impressive setting!

While you can easily spend an entire weekend in Turin alone, especially if you are planning in visiting all or most of the Palaces of the Royal House of Savoy; then there is no chance you could possibly include anything else however if you are a returning tourist (as we are to Turin), or prefer not to enter to that many palaces, then a day is well enough for visiting everything allowing you an entire extra day to do both Cuneo and Fossano, or if only time for one, then make it be Cuneo.

Both cities are very small, with a compact historic centre where distances are short through every sight. Cuneo is long, but narrow while Fossano has a squared shape and way smaller, famous for its traditional arched streets and the four towers castle towards the highest part of the city. A day is well more than enough for both either if you have your own transportation here or not because both cities lie along the mainline railway from Turin to Savona in the Mediterranean coast. (more…)

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Read more about the article Turin – Italy
Turin - Italy

Turin – Italy

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Automobile Capital of Italy

Once again on a trip returning to a city long time not been. It was back in July 2012, and this was in fact the very first guide I created in my travel blog. Now 5 years after and almost 400 guides later, it was long due for a full remake and edit in order to bring it to the usual standard clear and neat design, with way much more information and description. There are still around 100 guides to eventually keep updating as I return to the cities or merely to revamp them every now and then, but that’s a great achievement I am very proud of, thinking on the countless days and nights I’ve spent in order to maintain such a vast content, backdated to 2009 when I really started with this travel-bug that has seen myself to already 85 countries as of today, hundreds of cities and constantly on the go pretty much every weekend of the year.

Turin, the capital city of the Piedmont region was once the first capital city of Italy in 1861 and home to the House of Savoy, Italy’s royal family. Today it remains as one of the major cultural and economic poles in the country and a very important tourist destination legacy of its superb architecture and elegance combining all of the styles: Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, neo-classical, and art-nouveau among the Roman foundation of the city with gates, walls and other archaeological remains. Such a vast collection of constructions, especially the grand palaces scattered through the city and nearby villages was the key point for the UNESCO to list it a World Heritage Site under the name: “Residences of the Royal House of Savoy.”

From the 16th century, when Turin twas made the capital of the Duchy of Savoy, the city was one of the major projects in history with the enlargement of the otherwise small city into a big and elegant, with the construction of Piazza San Carlo and Via Roma the major urban achievements coupled with the strengthening of the city’s walls. A second expansion wave came in the 17th century with farther enlargement of the walls, the construction of the Royal Palace, and the famous Via Po linking the riverside to Piazza Castello. This was the last time the city saw such a revival, and for what it owes most of its nowadays enormous cultural heritage. Only during the 1930’s the latest additions was built, the main thoroughfare Via Roma in the Italian Rationalist style.


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Read more about the article Glasgow – United Kingdom
Glasgow - United Kingdom

Glasgow – United Kingdom

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Second City of the British Empire

A very long pending city for returning. With this, it’s the third time and once more I have to say how much I loved it. How beautiful and elegant, and so much to see and do that a weekend comes even short. It was also about time for a proper revisit and therefore, creating this well deserved guide for the city in the blog. Still, don’t blame me for not having created the London guide yet! (face-palm)… Keep checking in the near future as I promise you it is due to come and will be fully packed as are the guides for Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, Naples or Brussels just to name a few of the ones I keep returning very frequently.

Now onto what really matter here for now: Glasgow. To start understanding a little bit of the city and its incredible importance back in its heydays, we have to return few centuries ago, and not to the Roman times because over here, all that was built back then was the Antonine Wall which together with the Hadrian’s Wall farther south, were the northernmost frontiers of the Roman Empire, keeping it separate from the Celtic and Pictish Caledonia. It’s from the 17th century where the city started benefiting from the international trade, manufacturing and invention. At the turn of the 18th century the city was described to be only second to London for its beauty, cleanliness and planning; a city at the time of only 12000 inhabitants. Soon after with the Scottish Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution the city’s expansion was unparalleled. Take a map, and see the city’s urban planning, then you have the answer right away: the perfect city with the perfect orthogonal urbanism filled with the finest architecture of the era. Georgian, Victorian and then art-nouveu. To this last style, I will soon return to explain.

The 18th century also saw Glasgow’s port, created on the nearby Firth of Clyde expanded to become what is still today the largest and most important in the United Kingdom. Back in the time it was a major hub for the transatlantic routes and international trade especially tobacco, sugar, cotton and goods. Over half of the British tobacco was traded in Glasgow alone. (more…)

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Read more about the article Wurzburg – Germany
Wurzburg - Germany

Wurzburg – Germany

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Finest Baroque palace in Europe

One last place to visit for this long weekend taking the advantage of the Monday bank holiday in the UK, we left Wurzburg for the last, because it’s the largest of the cities (apart of Frankfurt of course, our base). In here you will need definitely much more time to enjoy and sightseeing, on top of the mandatory visit to the key highlights in the city, the UNESCO World Heritage Site listed Residence, and the Marienberg Fortress. Only with these two half of your overall time here will be taken. The rest is among the historic old town filled with countless churches in all architectural styles and beautiful palaces, houses and monument, despite the almost entire destruction of the city during the WWII air raids.

Like the unfortunate fate of countless cities in Germany, WWII took its toll and not only in death, but the mass destruction of everything standing. Wurzburg took only 17 minutes to be razed to the ground by the British. In the good note (for architecture), the city raised from the ashes with a great reconstruction, and it is today an important tourist destination included in many tours through Germany.

Wurzburg and this region of Franconia in Bavaria is one of the most important in wine producing in the country notoriously for dry white. If you have the chance why not to try some with your lunch, restaurants here are generally having a down to earth prices; and as a curiosity, it is home to the oldest pizzeria in Germany, from 1952. However when in Germany, it’s of course best to have nice sausages and fries instead. I cannot imagine any trip to the country and not having at least once a currywurst. Other than this, there is nothing else for now to be said in this brief introduction to the city. (more…)

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Read more about the article Heidelberg – Germany
Heidelberg - Germany

Heidelberg – Germany

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Pearl on the Neckar River

Almost 7 years have passed since the first and only time we’ve come here to the beautiful city of Heidelberg, and actually today was quite an unexpected return to be honest. I did not plan in coming here at all, however, because all of the previous cities we’ve been today were so small (Lorsch, Speyer and Maulbronn), and because the days now almost in June were lasting that long, so sunny and great weather, we could still benefit from some more daylight hours and enjoy a brief re-visit and nice dinner in this city, and let our other friends travelling together in this trip see more places.

I take the chance to remake this guide as well, as it was too old and quite short. One of the first ones released when I launched my travel blog live. I will only retain the travel map from the trip back in August 2010, showing another of our usual crazy trips packing as much as possible in a weekend where we came from Dusseldorf, reached Zurich in Switzerland, and stopped along the way for sightseeing Heidelberg which was in turn, the original plan that weekend. Zurich happened our of the blue decided in the go.

The city as small as it is (or might appear at first look), will shock you for the great amount of sights. Literally every building is of historical importance and beauty, not to mention the incredible views you will get from the banks of the river Neckar with the old bridge, city and the castle up in the hill. It is the 5th largest city in the region of Baden Wuttemberg, where Stuttgart is the capital. Not only you will find in Heidelberg this type of architecture, generally stone constructions and timber-framed traditional houses, but in the whole region on every village. Thankfully it was not as heavily destroyed during WWII as other regions and cities on the west of Germany were, meaning you can enjoy a complete Baroque style old town. (more…)

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