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Liverpool, (United Kingdom)

“The Pool”, “The World in One City”, “City of Talent”, “City of World’s Firsts”

Liverpool, United Kingdom, May 2019

For a very, very long time now I was keen to have a travel guide for this beautiful and vibrant city, but it was also many years since the last time I was there, long before I even started to create my travel blog hence I knew I had to return one day to get and compile the most up to date information and news, and experience it all once more to finally be able to share with you all what I consider as one of the most fascinating and impressive cities in the United Kingdom. A city that has given the entire world not just its name as such, but an entire institution of what its name means in the world of industry, transport, finances, arts, crafts and yes; music. The Merseybeat era (also known as Beat music or British Beat, with The Beatles the most prestigious band ever in history at the time.

A city not of Roman origin, celebrated its 800th anniversary in 2007. Ever since, the rapid transformation and consciousness in the incredible heritage, rich history from every building’s walls and its magnificent harbour and old docks transformed a decaying and quite dilapidated city into a modern thriving 21st century destination. Project after project, the change became unstoppable and continues to be so, to the point in which the prestigious listing of being an UNESCO World Heritage Site is nowadays in danger to retain. See it for good or for the bad, the organization claims that the continuous rise of taller and taller towers, striking museums and a blend with such post-modern style next to the most celebrated architectural classical icons is distorting the integrity and identity.

Many sites and entire ares in the city are UNESCO designated, notably what refers to its most direct past with the sea as a mercantile city. These are the magnificent Albert Dock and the Pier Head among others. Liverpool was once thriving in trade and transatlantic passengers; and there is another part of the city’s history, home to the Cunard Line and White Star Line, with some of the world’s most famous ocean liners registered in its port such as the Titanic, Olympic or Queen Mary. (more…)

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Avila, (Spain)

“Roman Abela”, “The Town of Stones and Saints”

Avila, Spain, April 2019

Impossible to think nor remember when was the only time I’ve ever been to this beautiful city, when I was a kid and never returned. Silly to think about it, how is it possible being that near Madrid and so easy accessible from here whether by train or bus, merely an hour and a half centre to centre. Considering the enormous patrimony and heritage, the only city in Spain retaining its medieval town walls absolutely complete and the city with the highest number of Romanesque and Gothic churches and constructions in the whole of Spain, it is no surprise it became one of the first entire cities to be listed by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

It’s the capital of the province of the same name, one of 9 that forms Castile and Leon, also one of the less populated. Barely 50.000 inhabitants. For much of its history it has been coexisting in the shadow, where no important events have taken place other than the fights between the Moors and the Christians. It was this quietness and somewhat remoteness from other bigger and important cities that left the heritage almost intact, a city that never needed to expand beyond its walls hence never tearing these apart, a perfect medieval city with some of the finest Romanesque buildings in Spain.

Not to mention, a day is well more than enough to enjoy it in full. The perfect day away from Madrid if that’s your base. After all, Madrid can be an idyllic base in order to reach stunning places and cities at around a maximum of an hour and a half distance, most of which listed UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as Talavera de la Reina, Toledo, Aranjuez, Cuenca, Alcala de Henares, Guadalajara, Segovia, El Escorial.

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Eindhoven, (Netherlands)

“Eeind: last, hove: land”, “Last hoves on the land of Woensel”

Eindhoven, Netherlands, April 2019

Completing the weekend after visiting Antwerp the day before, we return to where we flew into and from where we would depart later on in the evening, Eindhoven. Although this is not my first time here, but possibly the third or so, that was many years ago anyway hence not much I can remember. On the bright side, this is now the perfect occasion to finally have a travel guide written about this city and ready for anyone of you willing to travel here and get some first hand information about.

Although a small and still quite industrial city, it is turning into the 21st century and beyond with great projects all across its boundaries. Being in the sectors of banking and financial, technology, industry and housing. Lets not forget Eindhoven really developed and thrived with the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century. It is when it truly expanded and kicked off to become one of the key cities in the world in the production of electronics especially after the foundation of Philips, first producing light bulbs then expanding to plenty other sectors that we basically cannot live without something Philips in our lives.

Another world-wide known company that established towards the end of the 1920’s decade is DAF, the nowadays car and truck manufacturing giant. Unfortunately, the city was not spared during the WWII raids, and it suffered badly to the point that the reconstruction that followed did not restored the buildings but instead, cleared and made way for a new rearranging of streets and planning, and so the new buildings in place. (more…)

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Antwerp, (Belgium)

“Gallo-Roman Antverpia”, “The Diamond Capital of the World”

Antwerp, Belgium, May 2010

It’s great to travel back to cities and places when long time elapse in between the visits, and especially if that is to one of the greatest cities in terms of history, architecture and sights. To me, this is the third time here. If the first was the shortest as all I had was few hours interconnecting buses on way from Brussels to Amsterdam with the second time way longer than before; now this is the longest I’ve been hence covering deeply every sight and corner of the city. A great chance as well to now completely revamp this travel guide, rewriting and reviewing most of it.

Antwerp is the second largest city in Belgium after its capital Brussels, and with difference, also the second in elegance and richness. While Ghent and Bruges are incredibly beautiful places, these are first smaller, and secondly, like taken out of a fairy-tale. Antwerp in the other hand is grand and one can feel how powerful it once was.

Its port remains second in Europe, and one of the biggest in the world. It is merely 25 kilometers to the North Sea along the Westerschelde estuary of the River Scheldt that cross the city. One of the most important trading cities in the 16th century especially during the Spanish rule when it was the sugar capital of Europe after such commodity was coming from the colonies; cinnamon and pepper from Portugal and plenty others, translating in rivers of wealth and countless merchants coming to the city, and earning the Spanish crown seven times more revenues than the Americas.

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Innsbruck, (Austria)

“Roman Oenipons”, “Inn Bridge”

Innsbruck, Austria, March 2019

It’s been a long while to return to one of the less visited countries I’ve been in Europe, although I can proudly say I’ve been to some of the greatest cities of course with Vienna and Salzburg, and smaller Bregenz, the westernmost city of Austria right by the Lake Constance. Not many places nevertheless, and still missing to reach Linz, Klagenfurt and Graz hopefully in the near future at other trips.

While it’s the 5th largest city in the country, majority of tourism are winter visitors coming to what’s known one of the best sky resorts in Europe, the largest in the Alps. Within a short distance to the city centre you have great sky stations and circuits of any kind. So while the winter months is peak season for Innsbruck, during the the summer months it was way more laid back and quiet. Both seasons offer a totally different view of the city and its surroundings. One the snowy postcard-perfect view of the Alps, the other the green and rocks of the mighty mountains.

A vibrant city full of history and culture, capital of Tyrol since 1429 which gained its further push and importance after emperor Maximilian I moved the imperial court to Innsbruck in the 1490s. Churches, palaces and grand buildings, gardens and statues were built and there standing today even considering some destruction after the WWII raids. (more…)

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Grenoble, (France)

“The Capital of the Alps“, “Gallic Cularo”

Grenoble, France, March 2019

It’s been a while since one of these quick and short day trips, simply go and back in the same day with nothing else than a camera. However, for Grenoble this works perfectly since the medium to small size and sights are good enough for a day. Any longer and I could not image this being in the same city to be honest, although there is way much more of course, especially considering how near you are from one of the greatest cities in France, Lyon.

Considering the great flight offer, it was too tempting not grabbing it and just go. That was a good decision! Fair enough people do not usually come here merely for sightseeing the city, but instead for the great sky resorts everywhere within minutes from downtown, and of course, the spectacular views of the mighty Alps towering at the backdrop of the city.

From a modest city founded by the Gallic, then a small Roman settlement and garrison to one of the leading cities in Europe in high-tech industries, but still preserving a heritage from its past, once the largest manufacturer of gloves in Europe. Quite small nowadays however orientated to a high end market.

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Grenada

“The Island of Spice

Grenada, January 2019

Leaving behind Saint Lucia, we depart onto a last island-country in this cruise through the Caribbean before ending up at the starting point Barbados. Here we are in Grenada, docking at its capital city Saint George’s. First sighted by Christopher Columbus in 1498 during his third voyage to the Americas, and although claimed for the Crown of Spain, there was never found any evidence of settlement there. It was not until 1650 that the French settled and founded the capital at the eastern edge of the harbour named Saint Louis, however not a good location due to flooding and malaria, hence a new capital was built, Ville de Fort Royal.

After the 1763 Treaty of Paris, the island was ceded to Great Britain who named it Saint George’s Town, after the patron saint of England. It remained ever since British until its independence on 7th of February 1974. The Queen of England is still the Head of State as Grenada is a member of the Commonwealth Nations.

One of the main economies in this small island is the production of Nutmeg. Although this is not a tree from here, was back in 1843 when a merchant ship called in on its way to England from the East Indies carrying some Nutmeg trees that they left behind. This was the beginning of a booming industry in the island that now produces 40% of the world’s annual crop. Other spices such as clove or cinnamon are also very popular crops and wealthy economically speaking. Tourism is, of course, the most important direct influx in the economy of the island these days. (more…)

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Saint Lucia

“The only country in the world named after a woman

Saint Lucia, January 2019

One more island, and another country before a last one in this trip. Moving on from  Antigua onto the exotic Saint Lucia, docking at its capital city Castries. The only country in the world named after a woman; pulled back and forth for 14 times between the French who were the first to settle in the island and the British; it became permanently a British Oversee Territory until 1979 when it gained full independence. The Queen of England, Elizabeth II, however, is still the head of the state as Saint Lucia is part of the Commonwealth Nations.

Among its key sights in such a small land, nature and landscapes are somehow unique. The incredible rain forests, such exuberant vegetation and truly paradise beaches all around, but something unique adding to the excitement, it is one of the few islands in the world that contains a drive-in volcano. This is self-described by the word, you can be driven right there to the very edge of the boiling water springs, but do not expect any height, instead a rather hilly area at the backdrop of Soufriere with marvellous views towards the colonial city, the coast and the world famous Pitons Mountains.

Both cities of Castries and Soufriere, the “largest” in the island yet tiny when compared to normal standards of size and population are straightforward to visit. It’s merely an hour or so and you have completed all the nice colonial buildings around, hence when planning your time be mindful of this, while sticking to the limitations if you’ve come on a cruise which generally gives you from the morning around 8.00am until 18.00pm. That’s well enough to actually enjoy the best sights in the island which are along the west coast and in between Castries and Soufriere and the Pitons, some 40 kilometres apart from each other. (more…)

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