Category Archives: Europe
It’s no secret that Venice is the home to some of the most spectacular architectural sites of the Old World. Italy on a whole is brimming with ancient statues, magnificent arches and various memorials for persons who have made a considerable contribution to the nation. Even though the entire city of Venice is a historical wonderland, the hundreds of bridges and canals are one of the major attractions it offers.
The bridges and canals link together over 100 separate islands and islets, which create the floating city which we all know and love. While the canals by themselves aren’t spectacular with their murky waters, coupled with the many bridges and ancient buildings found on their banks, they form one of the most photogenic sites on earth.
While many tourists prefer to view the bridges from the comfort of their gondolas, or via a vaporetto, I’ve found that the best way to experience these masonry arts is to clamber over them by foot. There are many famous bridges all through the city, from the Accademia Bridge to the renowned Rialto Bridge. The Rialto Bridge has stood over the Grand Canal for centuries and its one of the oldest bridges currently in the City of Canals.
These bridges may be some of the largest, however there were countless others within the city which captured my interest. Some were extremely small in size, with approximately only twenty steps in total, linking two islands which were originally divided by a narrow waterway. One of such quaint bridges was located near to a small restaurant, quite a distance away from the Grand Canal. The stonework on this suspended staircase blended in with the brick and mortar buildings within the immediate vicinity.
As I drew closer to San Marco Square, the aesthetic quality of the bridges noticeably increased. Pale stonework created these precious links across the canals, with different types of concrete patterns molded into the framework. Underneath these bridges, the canals which lay below were part of the gondola routes, so gondolas would pass under frequently, being expertly manned by their gondoliers.
While the bridges are really lovely to admire, they proved to be extremely essential in obtaining impressive photographs of the Venetian waterways. Standing in the middle of one of these bridges would provide a visitor with a great vantage point to capture not only the canals, but the buildings which stand on either side.
I found it utterly amazing how these bridges allowed me to walk from island to island. I must’ve crossed over thirty of these structures during my walk to San Marco Square from the Grand Canal, and each bridge had its own distinctive quality which made it stand out from the others.
What I thought would have been a long and tedious journey by foot turned out to be nothing short of magical, and I highly recommend all able visitors to take a long walk through the floating city. Some of the most stunning architectural pieces you will ever witness may be closer to your fingers than you’d think.
Tips for visiting Dubrovnik:
1. Rather than hiring a taxi to the Old Town from downtown Dubrovnik, there are many bus stops along the main streets where you can board the local buses. Bus tickets can be bought when boarding the bus, however it works out to be cheaper if you buy your tickets from shops in advance. The local buses which run this route are the numbers 1a, 1b and 8, and the usual fare is 1.30 euro.
2. If you’re looking for a quiet restaurant within the Old Town to grab a bite to eat, you need to get off the beaten track. The restaurants that are in the open are always crowded and consequently, loud. There are many tiny staircases leading off the main streets in the Old Town, and all you have to do is keep an eye out for signs advertising the location of these independently owned businesses. I can assure you that they will be much cheaper than eating where everyone else is.
3. If you are like me, and you have a habit of collecting magnets or other various memoirs of your travels, then buying them from the shops in Old Town Dubrovnik is not the way to go. These products are marked up, and will cost a minimum of 3 or 4 euros. There are people walking around near to the gate of the walled city with souvenirs for less than half of the price of the store bought trinkets.
4. If you are visiting Dubrovnik as a stop on a cruise, then you are most likely without any of the local currency. Using the Euro in Dubrovnik may be a headache, unless you like to walk around with a small calculator. Spending the US Dollar is almost impossible, as stores seem to refuse taking the bills as payment. I utilized a foreign exchange agency to change my cash into the Croatian Kuna for a reasonable rate, and this made visiting the city a less confusing venture.
5. Many people visit the Old Town to walk along the walls in the hopes of capturing some great photos. The cost of this activity is about $12 USD. If you are more concerned about getting some bird’s eye views rather than the actual stroll along the wall, there is a free alternative. Just outside of the entrance of the Old Town is another hill. Most tourists aren’t aware of a path which takes you up this hill where you can get awesome views at the same height as if you’re climbing the wall. I discovered this totally by accident, and I’d love for others to experience the same.
Dubrovnik is a known as the Pearl of the Adriatic Sea, and it deserves the title. However, as with all major tourist destinations, high prices and large crowds are present as well. Hopefully, these tips will make your visit a bit cheaper, and allow you a few moments away from the crowds to enjoy the city with a bit of peace.
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about my Round The World trip in November 2011, and I’ve come to appreciate the opportunity to see so much of this fantastic place we call earth. With ticket prices soaring higher each day, these memories and photographs increase in value.
One of the more interesting attractions in Koper, Slovenia is the Old Bell Tower in Tito Square. The square itself is rather enchanting, with various buildings including the Praetorian Palace. Pigeons are literally everywhere, and ever so often a horse may trot through the square, pulling a beautiful carriage. Oh, just the regular happenings in this spectacular small coastal town.
Jenn and I decided that it would be a good experience to climb the tower, so we entered the small doorway that we noticed at the bottom of the building. There was an elderly man inside who apparently was the manager/cashier on duty, and he quoted us a price of 3 euros. After handing over the cash, we were given a ticket which we would keep as a souvenir of the activity.
We started up the stairs, which comprised of narrow wooden steps and a metal railing to hold onto. The descent wasn’t bad at first, however it became steeper and if possible, even more narrow as we approached the top. When you’re outside looking up, it doesn’t seem so high, but when you’re in the middle of climbing the bell tower, every step you take reminds you of exactly how far up you have to drag yourself.
Thankfully, Jenn and I are in pretty good shape, so we didn’t huff and puff too much, but the trip still wasn’t a walk in the park. When we were almost at the top, we saw the bell and it was massive! However, it started to chime and even though the sound was melodious, our ears started to hurt. This trip definitely shouldn’t be taken by persons with sensitive ears.
During the ascent, we sometimes had to squeeze to the side, in order for the people who were coming down the stairs to have room to pass. There was only one set of stairs in the tower, but everyone tried their best to accommodate each other, and I didn’t see any problems occur as a result. Persons who are claustrophobic or afraid of heights may not appreciate this, but I didn’t have an issue with it.
Finally, we arrived at the top of the tower. The views were like nothing I’ve ever seen before, and that statement holds a lot of weight. We were high above the red roof tops of the buildings within Koper, and the Adriatic Sea sparkled in the distance. The horizon was dotted with the sails of many small ships, and our cruise ship dominated the seascape as it floated majestically in the harbour.
The viewing platform at the top was a narrow walkway where visitors could walk around to get a 360 degree view. The other side of the tower showed green hillsides, dotted with tall trees and various types of vegetation. This side of the tower showed a completely different scene from the Adriatic Sea, and I was animatedly snapping away at my camera.
Immediately beneath of the bell tower was Tito Square. The square appeared to be tiny from this height, and the people who strolled around below, looked like small toys. We were high above all the other buildings, and the view inspired me to think about how beautiful the world really is.
Eventually, it was time to start the journey back down the seemingly hundreds of stairs. Once again, we seemed to have timed the bell perfectly, because it chimed as if to thank us for visiting. The Old Bell Tower in Koper was a great attraction, and I’m very happy that I made the effort to climb all the way to the top.