Read more about the article Kavala – Greece
Kavala - Greece

Kavala – Greece

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Ancient Neapolis, New City

Don’t even ask me how did I find a flight here. All I know is that there was nothing booked for this weekend, and out of curiosity I checked what flights were there available to anywhere (via skyscanner), and Kavala popped as one of the cheapest destinations, considering such a short notice just 10 days before. I did also never heard of such place, so I quickly checked some pictures and location, and here we are of course. How to resist such a temptation! No matter how short the overall time there was going to be, all that crossed my mind was something different: I fancy Greek food. Let’s have it in real Greece then!.

The best of all, this is a place unknown for the majority of tourists, hence you can have a great time without the hordes and tour operators shifting the hundreds of people that is generally at other cities. Here you will feel extremely relaxed and quiet, and will actually feel (possibly) for the first time, how the Greeks really live, without any strong tourist orientated mind. Still, from reading through the history of the city, I must admit this was a very important place back in the ancient Greek times. Not far north of Kavala sits ancient Philippi, founded by Alexander the Great’s father, Phillip, and where the apostle Paul baptized the first European Christian. Next to this city is the Pangaio mountain where ancient Macedonia’s gold mines were.

Later after the Greeks, during the Roman times one of the most celebrated achievements of engineering was laid, the Via Egnatia road, connecting Byzantium (modern Istanbul) with Dyrrachium (Durres), then by sea onto Brindisi in mainland Italy to connect with the Via Appia leading to Rome. You can still see great entire remaining portions around the region, just north of the city for example. As for some contemporary history, Kavala is the birthplace of modern Egypt’s founder Muhammad Ali of Egypt (4 March 1769). His house is now a museum you can visit. (more…)

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Read more about the article Valencia – Spain
Valencia - Spain

Valencia – Spain

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Roman Valentia Edetanorum

Quickly piling up on more trips for 2018, we do also continue to benefit from destinations which are way cheaper during the low season months that would rather be very expensive otherwise. 2 weeks ago it was Gran Canaria, the previous weekend, Seville; and now, Valencia. Although all of these three destinations are repeated, it was for some a chance to keep visiting other places, while for others, it was just too many years since we were there and therefore almost forgotten. Not just that, Valencia is also an incredible beautiful and large city, the 3rd largest in Spain where a weekend is even too short time. Now I do also finally get the chance to create this well deserved travel guide for it; and I know it will be laborious and quite in-detail in the sights section. There are just too many!

Founded by the Romans, is has survived periods of prosperity and depression through the centuries. Thriving, then wars and decline; destruction, rebuilding and so forth. From a Roman province, to the Moorish invasion, then reconquered by the Christians to become part of one of the Kingdoms that once were in the Iberian Peninsula: the Crown of Aragon. It was the 15th century what is best known as the Golden Age of Valencia, when the city lived a great economic expansion, culture and arts flourished and an overall wealth that saw the construction of most of the impressive buildings still standing today from that period. Its university, created in 1499 is one of the oldest surviving in Spain too. However, from one of the most influential cities on the Mediterranean to an economic crisis following the discovery of the Americas. Valencians, like the Catalans, Aragonese and Majorcans were prohibited participation in the cross-Atlantic commerce with the New World and any trade with the colonies. This left Valencia secluded with no riches coming in, nor benefiting from it.

To my personal opinion, this city is the combination of Madrid and Barcelona. From Barcelona it takes the fascinating elegant architecture, notably in the modernist style (art nouveau), and the urbanism; a perfect grid of orthogonal streets and avenues (although this is also traditional in Madrid and in any city in Spain during the late 19th early 20th century extensions). From Madrid it takes a vibrant and thriving life, day and night; and that feeling of a great big capital city. Nowadays, although the capital of the autonomous region of Comunidad Valenciana, it was for a brief period in the summer of 1812 the capital of Spain when Joseph Bonaparte moved the Court here; and then again, between 1936 and 1937 during the Second Spanish Republic. (more…)

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Read more about the article Agrigento – Italy
Agrigento - Italy

Agrigento – Italy

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Ancient Akragas. The Valley of the Temples

Approaching the end of the year, however not the end of the trips for this year yet. Still some more to come even though it’s just days before the Christmas time, and exciting for another great trip to come over New Year’s Eve and the first two weeks of January escaping the freezing and ugly weather in Europe for some beached in the Caribbean and an amazing cultural heritage everywhere in Cuba! For now, this is way another incredible trip whatsoever. No need to travel very far to reach some of the most unique and incredible places on earth from one of the once most fascinating and developed ancient civilization, the Greek. Agrigento was back then, Akragas; one of the leading cities of Magna Graecia. Sicily is Italy, that’s for sure, however over the past millennia this has not been the case and before the Romans, the Greek were here, among other past civilizations.

Reaching this place becomes a rush of excitement since it’s one of this key destinations for any ancient civilization lover. It is, and it will be, as when I finally get to reach Persepolis or the Machu Picchu, or when I walked past the siq into the “Treasury” building in Petra. Here you will find some of the most elaborate, large and best preserved Greek temples from this civilization, comparable to these of another former Magna Graecia jewels, Paestum (southern Italy).

A magnificent city founded around 580 BC, it developed prosperously being one of the richest and most important cities of the Greek Colony, once of the oldest democracies in the world until the Carthaginians in 406 BC overthrew it to never recover. Thereafter disputed between the Carthaginians and the Romans during both Punic Wars, it fully became part of Rome in 210 BC who renamed it Agrigentum. Both Greek and Latin were the official languages for many centuries afterwards until the fall of Rome changing hands to the Vandalic and Ostrogothic kingdoms before the Byzantine Empire. Lastly the Normans during the entire medieval period until the unification of Italy in 1860 leaded by Giuseppe Garibaldi. (more…)

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Read more about the article Trapani – Italy
Trapani - Italy

Trapani – Italy

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Ancient Greek Drepanon

Once again returning to Palermo in Sicily however with a different objective. A year ago this was for properly visiting this incredible city; yet in this occasion the main points were reaching Trapani right after arriving into Palermo’s airport, and the following day for one of the most spectacular cities from the ancient Greek civilization, Agrigento with its Valley of the Temples. All in all, another busy weekend ahead, but no matter how tired I get this all is well worth it and will keep doing it on and on for as long as I can. Also, returning to Palermo will be a reality for sure, with so much more to see west of the island and in the city itself, it’s the perfect gateway.

Often bypassed by tourists, the city has a lot to see and do. Much more that I did originally think and expected. And when saying this, I am also including the nearby mountain top village of Erice which is linked to Trapani by cable car and you can consider another district of the city, and if time permitting, it’s way worth it visit the ancient Greek city of Segesta with its marvellous Doric temple so incredibly well preserved. It’s matter of minutes by train or bus from downtown Trapani, hence as if it would be another city’s district.

The historic city centre in the other hand, is small and easy to navigate, that’s the good news hence why this is a perfect day trip from larger Palermo at the northeast, or Agrigento at the south of the island where tourists prefer to make their main base; myself among them of course by staying in Palermo. (more…)

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Read more about the article Capri – Italy
Capri - Italy

Capri – Italy

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The isle of the sirens

Another of the great yet small destinations we can tick the checkbox for finally being able to visit. However this is not our first attempt if I am to be honest. A year ago, precisely it was also May, we planned our trip to Naples with the intention of getting to the Magna Graecian cities of Paestum and Velia, and the following day to visit Capri. Unfortunately, from a day to the next, the weather situation changed so dramatically that it was raining horribly, with strong winds and so dark it would not make any sense at all making the trip. This is the main reason why another trip here to Naples this year, well, one in between many other reasons since returning to this city is always so great and pleasurable that we will keep with the tradition of returning at least once a year wherever we can.

Capri is one of the top island and not just in Italy nor the Mediterranean, competing with Ibiza, Santorini, Mikonos or the likes; but also worldwide where royalties, celebrities and famous make it their holiday destination or even own a top villa there. This fact is not new and it has always been the case since the Roman times when the island was chosen as the preferred holiday resort of the rich, and specially Emperor Tiberius who built one of the most luxurious villas ever, which remains you can visit today.

This is not a cheap place as you can imagine, and expect sky-high prices for everything, even a bottle of water! Sounds a bit stupid but would be worth it if you bring the water with you from Naples, believe me, it is either paying less than 1 Euro or triple for the same! It is the major downside in the island of course, however it is not that bad as people kept telling us. Just be cautious in making a choice, it will take you a while longer comparing a little bit here and there trying to avoid such horrific sky-high prices and tourists traps, or end up with just some snack keeping yourself for a much well deserved great dinner when you’re back in Naples.
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Read more about the article Naples – Italy
Naples - Italy

Naples – Italy

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Latin Neapolis: New City

Returning for one more time to what is now, without hesitation, one of our favourites cities in the whole of Italy: Naples. So much to see and not just only in the beautiful and so historic city itself but in the region nearby, that with every trip we do we never have enough time to see it all, but we are always happy to already start thinking in the next visit and which other places can be discovered. This city is by far the one in Italy located at the footsteps of countless world heritage sites and unique places, world-wide known. From spectacular beaches along the idyllic coasts of Sorrento and Amalfi; luxury destinations such as Capri or Ischia Islands; the ever watching Vesuvius Volcano and the literally countless Roman remains, the best and most complete ancient cities buried for almost 2000 years after the deadly Vesuvius eruption: Pompeii, ErcolanoOplontis and Stabiae. And if this is not enough, some further kilometres to the south south you have the ancient Greek cities of Paestum and Velia and the largest cloister in the world, the Certosa di San Lorenzo in Padula; or merely few kilometres north of Naples the largest royal residence in the world in the city of Caserta. This is only to name a few of the many destinations near Naples, now that we’ve been is most of them.

I take this occasion as a good chance for remaking this travel guide continuing to improve by adding as much updated information as possible, since it was already becoming too old. Now with all the links through added to other travel guides for the cities and sites near Naples, I am hoping to give enough details for everyone to enjoy a great holiday and know at all times what to see and do in the most simplest way possible.

Now time for a brief introduction to the city before moving onto the next subjects. Forget these urban legends about Naples as being a dangerous city. Of course, as a tourist, you will not end up going to random neighbourhoods or dodgy places where no one goes right? I’m sure you do not do that either in your hometown. Then all is left is a peaceful, messy and pretty much safe city. We’ve never felt any insecurity, although yes it is true at night around the train stations the situation looks not the best place to be. Too many homeless people everywhere, too dirty, day and night, but again, we’ve never experienced anything wrong.

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Read more about the article Thessaloniki – Greece
Thessaloniki - Greece

Thessaloniki – Greece

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Thessalonike, half sister of Alexander the Great

Another weekend, and another city not been before. What else can I ask. This travelling bug is now reaching unthinkable levels to the case that since November last year, I’ve spent only one weekend in London without going anywhere, and the next time that will happen might be just the second weekend in April, unless I end up finding another good destination to go. Otherwise it seems it will be June for my next weekend without travelling. 7 months non stop yet I want much more!

Greece, I must admit is one of the greatest “unknown” in my travel bag. With so many hundreds of places to go, and so many beautiful islands, I’ve only been really few places to be honest, comparing to how many more I wish to go. But flying to Greece does not come cheap as other destinations. Well, it can certainly be cheap, but not when looking for precise days such as flying out there on a Friday evening or Saturday morning, returning on Sunday in order to avoid having to book holidays from work.

Thessaloniki is the second largest city in the country after Athens, but through history, it has been capital of many civilizations and empires, to the point of being a city larger in population than London by the 14th century when it was part of the Byzantine Empire. To give you an idea and brief knowledge, since its foundation in 315 BC by King Cassander of Macedon who named it in honor of his wife, Princess Thessalonike, half-sister of Alexander the Great; it has changed hands from Kingdom of Macedon to Rome, Byzantine Empire, Crusader Kingdom of Thessalonica, Despotate of Epirus (known as Empire of Thessalonica), Second Bulgarian Empire, Nicaeam Empire, Republic of Venice and for almost 500 years under Ottoman rule until 1913 with the annexation to Greece. (more…)

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Read more about the article Tarragona – Spain
Tarragona - Spain

Tarragona – Spain

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Capital of Hispania Tarraconensis

Just a week after being in Barcelona and Girona, we returned but this time with the main objective of spending Saturday sightseeing another city we’ve not been before: Tarragona. This is one of the great advantages of flying to Barcelona, and it’s that the entire autonomous region of Catalonia is filled with history and sights everywhere, hence it’s a perfect place to keep returning year after year. Not only to be with my Catalan friends, but also for going together to the many places around. After all they are also great guides since they’ve been many times before in these cities.

Tarragona was in our agenda for a long time. It is one of the few Spanish cities where so many Roman remains can be visible and integrated in the new city that constantly grew since the fall of the Roman Empire. Nowadays the ruins of Tarraco are listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. I can only recall the city of Merida, in Extremadura, as one of the best examples in the whole of Spain for the largest amount of monumental structures greatly preserved from the Roman times.

Once again as it was last weekend in Girona, the city is not too big and it is perfect for a day visit. Majority of tourist are day-trippers from Barcelona or the coastal resorts, and so we were coming for the day from Barcelona where we had our hotel. I cannot imagine however, any longer in the city should be your plan only stay here as you will end up with nothing else to do on your second day. (more…)

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