Apr 26

KRAKOW – HISTORY AND LEISURE IN A CITY OF LEGEND (KRAKÓW)

Many confuse Krakow with Warsaw, the capital of modern Poland, but Krakow is considered the cultural capital and is used to be the official one until 1596, when Poland was a kingdom. Krakow is located on the Northern bank of the Vistula River and the basis of this settlement is said to have been established by a brave cobbler, Szewczyk Dratewka, who fought a dangerous dragon, chased it out of the place and made it hide in a cave. That is why the effigy of Warsaw is a dragon.

http://culture.pl/

http://culture.pl/

It is Poland’s second largest city, with a population of over 755,000 inhabitants and, some say it is definitely the most fascinating and elegant city of Poland, with three main areas which are not to be missed: the Old Center with the old cathedrals, the memorial house of Pope John Paul II, Barbican Palace, the old market – which is Europe’s largest market -, or Rynek Underground. Fortunately, Warsaw was not affected by the ravages of World War II, compared to other cities, and it preserves a great deal of its monuments, such as the former royal Wawel castle (considered one of the most visited spots) and the reputed Warsaw University – the oldest university in Europe, among many other sightseeings that are enclosed in a circle-shaped park named “Planty”.

http://www.aritours.si/

http://www.aritours.si/

Afterwards you have the picturesque Jewish Quarter – Kazimierz, that looks like an open-air museum – a place of legend which inspired many fascinating novels and movies, such as “Schindler’s List”, which was actually filmed right there, on the spot, Seems that the director, Steven Spielberg, decided that the surroundings have preserved the very atmosphere of the era and it was a perfect set for his film. There, you can visit the factory of the real Schindler, the Jewish ghetto with the old drugstore and synagogue.

Another main touristic spot that you must not miss is the Castle, in fact an architectural complex made up of the cathedral built in the memory of Pope John Paul II, the citadel’s museums and the crypt of the former Polish president Lech Kaczynsky.

Kalwaria Zebridowska is known as “the Polish Golgota” and it represents an ensemble of convents and monasteries situated some 38 km north to Krakow. It is almost a small town of monastic settlements which become a part of U.N.E.S.C.O. patrimony in 1999.

http://www.polin.travel/

http://www.polin.travel/

The elegance of the old monuments are well-known; the Art Nouveau buildings, the Medieval churches and other such monuments will definitely awe you and remain in your memory.

But besides the cultural attraction, there are plenty of restaurants, pubs, clubs and bars, making Krakow a vivid and colourful city. Restaurants offer the visitors a wide range of possibilities, from Japanese flavors, to Italian and, of course, traditional dishes. The services are great, the prices are lower than in other parts of Europe and people are greatly hospitable and lovely.

You will definitely not get enough from only one visit!

Apr 25

HAGIA SOPHIA, THE EVERLASTING GREATNESS OF BYZANTUM (HAGIA SOPHIA)

http://www.dailyistanbulcitytour.com/

http://www.dailyistanbulcitytour.com/

The 1400 year old monument located in Istanbul, Turkey, is a magnificent structure of grand proportions, whose building is a proof of architectural mastery, considering that it has no steel structure and it completely functional after all these centuries of turmoil that have passed by, and is a living symbol of the greatness of the Byzantine Empire.  Another awing detail is the six-year span of the building process, compared to latter marvelous constructions, such as the Notre Dame in Paris, which, in Medieval times, needed almost a century to be finished.

http://www.bloggang.com/

http://www.bloggang.com/

The building began during the rule of Emperor Justinian I, in the year 532 A.D. and was opened to worship on the third day of Christmas, in the year 537. Its name means “Divine Wisdom”, but it was commonly known as “Megalo Basiliko” – the Great Church.

Hagia Sophia that we know today is a greater replica build after another great cathedral had been burned in a riot against Justinian I. The prior has been built by Emperor Constantine on the same spot, and Justitian I, who survived the riot, decided to make another one, greater and more outstanding.

http://www.dailyistanbulcitytour.com/

http://www.dailyistanbulcitytour.com/

The great edifice was made at tremendous cost, but it was meant to last over the ages, earthquakes, conquests and several alterations, including a transformation into an Islamic mosque (in 1453 by faith Sultan Mehmet) followed by a conversion into a museum (in 1935 by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the progressive Turkish president), which is today.

The entire grandeur is topped by the central dome with a diameter of 31 meters, which stands 56 meters above ground and seems to be supported by an invisible thread coming from the very sky.

Mosaics made of gold, silver, terra cota, semi-precious stones, the polychrome green, pink, yellow and white marble, the upper windows stairs and the several strategic entrances – each dedicated to a certain social rank – prove that Hagia Sophia is one of the architectural marvels of all times. Emperor Justinian gave order that the greatest materials to be brought from all the regions of the empire, such as Anatolia, Syria, Ephessus and Egypt. It is said that Emperor Justinian I exclaimed upon the finishing of the oeuvre: “Solomon, I have outdone thee!” Modern architects say that no photography can comprise it’s grace and refinement and

https://ro.wikipedia.org/

https://ro.wikipedia.org/

The filigree mosaic representing Jesus Christ, Holy Virgin Mary, John the Baptizer and pendentives of seraphim images have been covered in clay at one point during the Ottoman rule, but they are still is visible, despite the carefully placed layers, which is an unexplainable, if not miraculous fact.

http://www.livescience.com/

http://www.livescience.com/

Besides the structure itself, there is a number of five tombs belonging to Ottoman Sultans and their family members. The Ottomans have added a madrasa (higher level school) and minarets to serve to the Islam assessment and four calligraphy panels stating Quran verses.

Currently it works as a museum, welcoming tourists from all over the world and its beauty and divine brilliance doesn’t cease to awe and fascinate the visitors.

Apr 22

SANKT PETERSBURG, THE CAPITAL OF OPULENCE (SANKT PETERSBURG)

If we were to choose a capital of luxury, elegance and opulence, Sankt Petersburg could easily gain a top position. The imperial headquarters, the City of Tsars was meant to be a display of grandeur, from the very beginning, despite its modest start out, considering that prior to the majestic palaces and cathedrals, the surrounding place was nothing but a daunting swamp.

Kazan Cathedral  http://www.crestinortodox.ro/

Kazan Cathedral
http://www.crestinortodox.ro/

The Russian emperor who gave the name to the citadel, Peter the Great, gathered an army of the finest European architects to fulfill his desire of sophistication and luxury, and the dream came true, making the place the first modern city of the Russian Empire and the household of the Romanov Dynasty.

Centuries have passed, Russia faced tremendous turmoil and changes of the forms of government, but nothing crashed the splendor and greatness of Sankt Petersburg.

sankt2

http://turism24.net/

The home of some of the most prestigious museums, Sankt Petersburg is a macro-scale museum in itself and one of the finest collections of art, history and culture in the entire world.

Every corner, every building preserves the mark of a great historical moments or personality that you know of from your books.

Winter Palace  http://www.infotour.ro/

Winter Palace
http://www.infotour.ro/

However, be prepared to enjoy the visual exhibit of wonders and make sure that you adjust your visit to the harsh weather. To the locals, it doesn’t mean much and it’s a part of the city’s charm, but to those of you who are not accustomed to Russian winters, you might need to add some extra luggage to keep you warm. But the problem is not the chill itself, which is at the “normal levels” of any winter in the temperate zone, but the humidity: Sankt Petersburg is located on the Neva – fact that granted it with the nickname `the Venice of the North – and it gives a foggy disposition all year long.

Another particularity is the White Nights phenomenon, which takes place from nay to July, due to the placement in the Northern hemisphere. The sun hardly goes underneath the horizon (for not more than one hour daily) and it bather the city in an endless twilight which confers a surreal other-worldly charm to the already staggering beauty of the city.

During this time of the year, you have to opportunity to enjoy many artistic events; such as music and theatre festivals that take place, making Sank Petersburg the liveliest spot on the planet, with people roaming the streets in seek of exhilarating and unforgettable performances.

http://www.turismistoric.ro/

http://www.turismistoric.ro/

However, if you decide to plan your visit during this time, keep in mind that all the touristic spots will be overcrowded.

I would mention a few popular venues which every person who appreciates art must see at least once in a lifetime.

Hermitage Museum one of the most famous museums on the planet and probably the most visited spot in all Russia. What is more to say about this collection of some of the finest artistic treasure worldwide?  The Hermitage is a fabulous castle that gathers more than three million masterpieces signed by names such as Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Rembrandt or Picasso. Do not expect to manage to visit the entire museum but make sure you decide prior to the entrance which areas to go to. For instance go to the section of your favorite artists, or favorite epoch, as it is impossible to see everything in only one visit. First of all, there aren’t enough hours in a day…

https://www.pinterest.com/

Jupiter’s Hall, hermitage Museum https://www.pinterest.com/

A fun fact which you’re probably missed is that some of the most respected employees of Hermitage are a few cats that have the clear task to protect the masterpieces from mice!

The Pushkin Palace – with its famous Amber Room -, the University of Sankt Petersburg, the Winter Palace, Menshikov Palace, Kazan Cathedral, Mikhailovsky Castle, Petrodvorets Palace, Peter and Paul Fortress – a military complex which houses a former prison and the cathedral where the Romanov family is buried -, Alexander Nevskiy Monastery are just a few options that you must not miss.

You can talk endlessly about this historical and architectural gem, you can return for many times but you will always remain with the feeling that there is still something left to discover and let it mesmerize you.

 

Apr 21

BALCIC CASTLE – THE HEART OF THE QUEEN (BALCIC)

Balcic is a small town some 40 kilometers from Varna and it used to be a part of the Romanian Kingdom, together with the rest of the southern part of Doborgea, when the political region named Cadrilater was a Romanian territory (1913-1940). In those times, the Romanian royalty and artistic and cultural elite considered Balcic their favorite place for leisure time.

It has been inhabited for a very long time, since Antiquity, when it was known by the name Crunos / Crunon / Crunoi, or Dionysopolis, named after the Greek god of wine and banquets.

balcic1

http://www.srsff.ro/

The places hardly preserves the romantic touch of the between wars period, due to the newly built communist blocks, but the Castle belonging to Queen Mary of Romania is the centerpiece of the area, which the visitor will love and admire. It’s a classical and simple building, rather modest, compared to what one might imagine when thinking of a royal residence, but it has a scenic look that transmits tranquility and peace. The surrounding garden wears the print of Queen Mary who was passionate of nature and built this park after her own desire and here you can admire a great diversity of plants and flowers.

As the matter of fact, the entire edifice was built at the order of Queen Mary and it represented the summer residence and her favorite place to spend her time in.

http://www.agerpres.ro/

http://www.agerpres.ro/

The botanic garden, gathering a few hundred species of cactuses and Mediterranean vegetation is unique in Central and Eastern Europe. Queen Mary appealed to the experience of the Swiss garden decorator, Jules Jany, to give it the pattern of the Cretan labyrinth and the rock was built from Crete.

The inside of the castle keeps the same air of austerity, by the small number of rooms. The entrance continues with a 50+ squared meters, the first floor holds a Turkish bath, a living / bedroom, a dressing room and a terrace where you can admire the sea. The white walls contrast the blue of the sea, reminding of Greece.

http://martha-nc.blogspot.ro/

http://martha-nc.blogspot.ro/

The Queen suggested the two Italian architects – Augustino and Amerigo – to blend different styles: Moorish, Italian and Turkish – hence the minarets that make it resemble a mosque.

Inside the castle, there’s a restaurant, where the Queen used to serve her meals and now you can take part of this royal adventure and have a taste yourself.

Within the area of the castle there are several villas, a well-known holy spring, a cascade, a chapel and the tomb of Queen Mary. One of the most stunning parts of the areal is Allah’s garden, paved with Moroccan stone.

The entire domain is very vast and you might need a map – which will be sold to you at the entrance, together with the access ticket – to go around.

The first thing that you encounter is the Sentry Box, a triumphal arch, followed by the Silver Well, where you can throw a coin and the legend says that if you make a wish, it will come true. Allah’s garden connects the Silver Well to the Blue Arrow Villa, where you can admire the amazing cactuses and numerous antique objects, stone benches, dating from Queen Mary’s times and beautiful cypress trees.

http://aventurierii.ro/

http://aventurierii.ro/

You will be mesmerized by the Temple of Water, the Stella Maris Chapel, the Blue Wave Lane, the English Court and the Waterfall, among many other surprises.

It is one of the most picturesque places on the Eastern shore of the Black Sea that will definitely offer you beautiful memories and will take you back to the nostalgic ages reigned by an icon of elegance and dignity.

http://www.bookaholic.ro/

http://www.bookaholic.ro/

 

 

Apr 20

DUBROVNIK, THE SPIRIT OF INDEPENDENCE (DUBROVNIK)

Known as the Athens of the Adriatic, this Medieval and Baroque fortress-city is the most popular touristic attraction in Croatia. A symbol of freedom, Dubrovnik has been an independent municipality which kept its independence for most of the centuries. Despite that, it had glimpses of history when it went under the Venetian rule for one and a half centuries, between 1200s and mid-1300s. It was freed by Louis of Hungary and it became a vassal stat of the Hungaro-Croatian kingdom, despite the fact that its official status was of an independent state.

http://soleans.spb.ru/

http://soleans.spb.ru/

After that, the Hungaro-Croatian handed it over to the Ottoman Empire about one century after, but, with smooth diplomatic tactics and tributes offered to the Gate, the city-state had regained its tacit independence. It managed to preserve a detached position between the political blocks of the era and, even if it managed to tie strong diplomatic connections with the Catholic world – Spain, the Papality -, the small state avoided to side against the ottomans, as it had the interest of maintaining a neutral status in the area for economic reasons – gaining revenues and taxes from whoever was passing through the neutral port. Afterwards it has been disputed by Napoleon, then added to the Dalmatian province, but it has kept its strength and singularity as if time has passed by it without leaving too many marks.

http://croatia.hr/

http://croatia.hr/

Now a part of the UNESCO heritage, its moniker remained “the pearl of the Adriatic Sea” after George Bernard Shaw paid a visit and was struck by its beauty. Dubrovnik it distinguishes itself by its stone walls – along which you can walk and admire the entire panorama – standing against the waves and the mixture of elegant architectural styles that have been kept almost untouched.

http://blog.planaxy.com/

http://blog.planaxy.com/

The Old Town is the highlight of the structure. You can get there walking, or by taking a cable car that will take you up, on top of the scenery. When you roam the streets of Dubrovnik, you breathe history with every step that you take, but you can also enjoy the luxuries of modernity by enjoying the summer festivals that take place every year, savor the tastes of Croatian wine and bathe in the blue of the waters.

http://www.express.co.uk/

http://www.express.co.uk/

In this respect, the main beach of Dubrovnik, Banje, which is perfect for any age, especially for families with small children, as they offer a great variety of entertainment. However, keep in mind that it reserved only for tourists, so, in case you want to start a conversation with a local, you can go to Sveti Jakov, some 20 minutes’ walk along Vlaha Bukovca, a lovely pathway shadowed by old, majestic trees.

There are plenty museums which preserve fascinating artifacts and slices of history, but one of the most captivatin is the Rector’s Palace, which has a history and elegant architecture of its own and preserves samples of the most recent history of the region.

Also, try to not miss any of the institutions that store memories of Europe’s golden ages: Ethnographic Museum, Maritime Museum, the Homeland War Museum, and memorial houses such a Ronald Brown and Marin Drzic.

http://blog.planaxy.com/

http://blog.planaxy.com/

 

Apr 19

PIATRA-NEAMT, THE MEETING PLACE OF THE SACRED AND MODERN (PIATRA-NEAMT)

A timeless realm of pastoral hills, majestic mountains and old monasteries, Neamt district, placed in the south of the historical region of Moldova, is a popular touristic spot for those who enjoy nature, history and tranquility.

The capital of Neamt is the town of Piatra Neamt and it is built on the relics of Petrodava, an old Dacian settlement.  Piatra Neamt bears the traces of other ancient cultures, such as Cucuteni – one of the most famous prehistoric cultures of Europe. It is bordered by five mountain peaks belonging to the Eastern Carpathians, is crossed by the River Bistrita and offers all the benefits of a natural environment placed in the middle of one of the most beautiful areas of Romania.

pn1

http://www.viziteazaneamt.ro/

You can get there by train that connect Piatra Neamt to Bucuresti – the capital city of Romania, iasi (one of the busiest Romania cities) and Targu Mures (placed in the nearby historical region of Transylvania) and the nearest airport is 60 km towards the South, in Bacau.

There are plenty of accommodation opportunities, due to the fact that, in recent years, Piatra Neamt has encountered a considerable economic development that boosted tourism, as well.

pn2

The Youth Theatre http://www.ziarpiatraneamt.ro/

If you have decided to arrive here, you were probably allured by the crude beauty of the Ceahlau Peak – considered a sacred mountain, similar to Olympus, in Greece. There are many legends related to this imposing natural monument, which hosts the homonymous national park, among the most beautiful in Romania. Ceahlau is the highest peak of the Bistrita Mountains and has always been considered the watchtower and the protector of the ancient surrounding lands and its inhabitants. Long ago, when the ancestors of today’s Romanians celebrated their ancient beliefs, they considered that it was the residency of Zamolxis – the principle of Creation and Ceahlau was named Pion/Peon (the Home of the Pillar). And nowadays, when the area hosts such a great number of monasteries and settlements of Orthodox hermits, it is considered the second most important mountain of Christianity, after Athos Mountain in Greece.

pn3

http://www.piatra-neamt.net/

The landscapes – mountains and lakes – are the greatest resource of Piatra Neamt, together with the monasteries which represent real pieces of architectural jewelry that lasted since the times of Stephen the Great – the Moldavian Prince who bravely defended his homeland and the Christianity by the invasions of the numerically superior Ottoman Empire at the dimmet of the Middle Ages. Stephen the Great is also the founder of some of the most beautiful Orthodox monasteries in the country and is said that he would build a monastery after every won battle.

pn5

Agapia Monastery https://commons.wikimedia.org/

Among the most prestigious one in the area, I would mention only a few that are not to be missed: Agapia, Almas, Neamt (attested by the documents since 1210), Petru Voda, Sihastria (built in 1655), Bistrita Monastery, Durau, Daniil Sihastrul – which bears the name of the Stephen’s spiritual father, a wise hermit who guided his decisions.

You can also visit the Court and Tower of Stephen the Great, which is available all-year long and the Histrory and Archeology Museum, where you can admire the greatest collection of Aeneolithis artifacts in Europe.

pn6

Neamt Monastery http://www.crestinortodox.ro/

But don’t imagine that modernity has missed this picturesque place, on the contrary; it is one of the most vivid cultural and artistic cities of Romania: The Theatre of Piatra Neamt is a prestigious stage, where some of the greatest names of actors and directors of the last century began their careers. Also, there are many other festivals throughout the year that will enrich your experience, such as a Classic Music Festival, an International Theatre Festival and countless folklore festivals that will introduce you to the local traditions.

Apr 18

THE ETERNAL AND AGELESS PRAGUE (PRAHA)

The capital of the Czech Republic, Prague, is, by rights, considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world. You can visit Prague any time of the year, and each season adds a flavour of its own to the already spectacular city. You need more than a lifetime to discover it thoroughly and it will always save yet another undiscovered surprise to the insatiable visitor. It is sheer bliss to walk around the streets of Old Prague and New Prague and never get tired of it.

praga1

http://voyage.gentside.com/

Probably one of the best-known symbols of Prague is the astronomic clock placed on the Southern wall of the City Hall and it is one of the most fascinating pieces of its kind if we keep in mind that it was built in the 15th century: it shows the hours – each hour of the day is marked by a statue of each of the Twelve Apostles that appears when the hour changes, the months and the position of the Sun and Moon on the sky and later on, in the 1800s, another watchmaker, Josef Manes, added the symbols of the 12 horoscope signs to the original mechanism. There is a tragic legend that accompanies this masterpiece: it is said that Master Hanus, the watchmaker who created the clock, was blinded by the local officials so that he won’t reproduce this technical wonder elsewhere. Despite this, he managed to recreate it and afterwards he threw himself off the top of the mechanism and died. But his clock is still working perfectly.

praga2

http://www.czechtourism.com/

Another spectacular piece of architecture is Saint Vitius Cathedral, part of the Prague Castle, and it defies the overall elegance of the city with its French Gothic style. It is the largest church in the country as it incorporates several chapels and tombs of the kings and queens of Bohemia, and Catholic saints, turning it into a pilgrimage spot. Visitors are allowed to climb the 287 steps to the top of the bell tower and admire the breathtaking panorama of Prague.

The Prague Castle is the world’s best preserved and widest Medieval complex, but it is not a castle in its general meaning, as the construction plan is designed horizontally, instead of vertically. Besides, several edifices have different architectural styles. The surrounding quarter of this perimeter is named Hradcany and is crossed by the Vltava River.

praga3

http://www.placestoseeinyourlifetime.com/

Outside the complex the visitor can indulge in buying souvenirs from one of the many booths across the Golden Street and visit Saint George Basilica, the Art Museum and the Mihulka Tower, where, long ago, it was the quarter of Alchemists who had been constantly working to discover the secret formula that could transform all metals into gold.

Prague4

http://www.eacpt.eu/

Another spectacular site is the Karluv Bridge, a Baroque monument whose construction lasted for about 45 years and it was made at the King’s order. It was built in the 13th century by King Karluv the Fourth and it crosses the Danube River. It is probably one of the most popular touristic sites in Prague, as it is always filled with musicians that offer the visitors a free performance throughout the day.

The Dancing House – formerly known as “Fred and Ginger” (the nickname of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers), as it was said that it resembles a dancing couple – is a marvelous piece of modern architecture that defies the law of gravity and all the rules of classic architecture and was finished in 1996. It had become so popular that they printed a coin with its symbol. Despite its eccentric appearance, it fits perfectly into the rest of the ensemble.

praga5

http://www.thebluedotpost.com/

Prague is the city of never-ending reconstruction, in order to preserve all the buildings whose continuity represents the fuel of national identity and tourism and the pride of its inhabitants, but that will not upset the guests too much, as there are plenty of sights that you can see and enjoy their spectacular beauty.

Apr 12

BELGRADE – THE CAPITAL OF WHITE NIGHTS

Here we are, back to the Balkans, in the capital city of Serbia, Belgrade. Why Belgrade? Because rumor has it that this it the IT place of nightlife in all Europe, at the moment. Seems more like a piece of info pour les connaisseurs, as most folks still prefer to enroach upon the more “certificated”spots on the west side of the Old Continent, such as Paris, Barcelona, Milan or Berlin.

belg6

http://www.teamsdesign.com/

Most of us cannot forget the painful yesterdays of Belgrade and former Yugoslavia, but things are settling down little by little. Probably as a revenge for all the anguish of the last decade of the previous century, Belgrade is trying to move on and switch to a different demeanor that would remind us of the famous “seize the day” adage.

Little is known of this corner of the world, still, but it seems that the impetuous temperament of the locals is beginning to reverberate and catch the eye of the inquisitive adventurers.

Before you decide to pay a visit , you must get an idea about the cultural background of Belgrade and the entire country – a tremendously vast mosaic of influences, which merged into the original shape and singularity that Serbia is today.

A Slavic nation with a strong sense of identity, the Serbs have dealt with centuries of political and cultural influences coming from the Ottomans, the Byzantine Empire, Russia, the Vatican, contemporary Western powers and so on, but not only they haven’t lost their essence, on the contrary, they have enriched it and solidified it into a new status worthy of recognition.

belgrade5

http://belgradecat.com/

Since the 19th century, the Serbs have known a continuous age of cultural evolvement, generated by the Habsburg Dinasty that established several superior educational centers, such as faculties and colleges, yielded throughout time mainly by religious figures who have imposed a strict demeanor on society. Speaking of which, do not miss the church of Saint Peter near Novi Pazar, the oldest in Serbia; it is very well-preserved and offers a vivid lesson of historic endurance.

The educational boost has proven great achievements in fields such as philosophy, science, economy, arts, literature and architecture. On the background of a flourishing culture, the scholars agreed on the necessity of creating a typical alphabet, known as Serbian Cyrillic, used only in this particular part of the Slavic world, which distinguishes itself from the classic one, as we now it to be in Russia, Bulgaria etc.

Nevertheless, this cultural complexity thoroughly reflects on people’s attitude and way of life, that blend the colourful spirit of the Balkans with the chic of aristocracy.

Belg2

http://www.modernwearing.com/

One of the four European capitals placed on the Danube River, Belgrade is also crossed by another river, Sava, and it seems that this very placement amplifies the potential of the the fun you can have. If, so far, the underground or the hights of the sky scrapers were the highlight of worldwide entertainment, Belgrade gives you the chance to float, not only on it’s waters, but on modern beats coming from the splavovi, the emblematic rafts that host insane parties and all sorts of notorious social events. But if you are not accustomed to the splavovi, do not imagine we’re talking about a bunch of logs held together, but right-down floating clubs, all frolicking and glitzing, which might somewhat remind you of them ancient Roman feasts (in the good way, but don’t say you haven’t been warned!). That goes on specifically during summertime, but there are a few reserved for the cold season, as well; and if water-in-winter is too mainstream, you can always relax on the sky slopes nearby Belgrade, that are in great condition and very biding.

Belg3

www.beogradnocu.com

Now, if you’re not so much on the wild side and you prefer a more settled, cozy or intellectual atmosphere, there are plenty to choose from, as every month is dedicated to a series of events.

For instance, in May we have the Night of Museums (Noć Muzeja), when over 60 cultural institutions are ready to have you as their guest. August is all about festivals and I would name only a couple: B.E.L.E.F. – Belgrade Summer Festival, where you can enjoy the newest music, dance, theatre, visual arts production that deliver performances around the streets of the Old Town – , and the Beer Festival, where you can see live shows of some of the most prestigious rock groups in Europe and the rest of the world and, of course, drink bear. Loads of beer.

belgrade4

www.tob.rs

Whether it’s experimental music or a Jazz concert, a film screening or an avant-garde artistic exhibition, a fine meal accompanied by out-of-a-Kusturica-movie Gypsy tunes that you can enjoy in a bohemian and classy place in the quarter of Skadarlija – the Serbian Montmartre – , Belgrade offers you all.   

September hosts events like the Belgrade International Theatre Festival and the International Film Festival in Belgrade so, even if you are exhausted after a full summer – a good play and an exciting movie will definitely put you back on track.

The translation of Belgrade is ”the White City” and we can conclude that, among the many sides of this metaphor, one can reflect the flamboyant and energetic night life of the Serbian capital city.

Don’t miss its vibe!   

Apr 11

THE ROMANIAN PALACE OF PARLIAMENT (PALATUL PARLAMENTULUI ) – CONTEMPORARY GRANDEUR AND ARCHITECTURAL MASTERPIECE

The biggest administrative building in the world is located in Bucharest, the capital city of Romania, and it is probably one of the most controversial edifices build in the recent history.

http://www.blog.wellcome.ro/palatul-parlamentului-romania

http://www.blog.wellcome.ro/

The building plan begun in the year 1978, after the great earthquake of 1977, when a great part of Bucharest – a city with an architecture that lasted since the pre-World War I period – had been knocked down by the seism. At that time, the incumbent president of Romania, the Socialist dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, saw the destruction of Bucharest as an oportunity of renewal and “The House of the People” – as it is known by its original name – was considered the crown jewel of the Romanian capital. The chief architect was Anca Petrescu, a reputable architect who gained Ceausescu’s respect; she brought the project to an end and lead a team of as many as 700 architects and 20.000 workers.

casa_poporului2

http://zoom.mediafax.ro/

Fun fact: speaking of Pharaohs, The Romanian Parliament is bigger then the Pyramid of Kepos in Egypt by two percent!

At that time, it was one of the most lavish and exorbitant  buildings of the 20th century, as it represented about one-third of the country’s budget on a period of five years (in 2006, its costs have been estimated at around 3 billion Euros) and it implied great pecuniary and human  endeavor.

There has been used a great deal of resources and materials, such as tones of marble, crystal, expensive wood essence, leather, glass and Romanian manufactured carpets and curtains that add to the elegance and exquisite furnishments.

The numerous conference halls of the Romanian Parliament Building have hosted countless events and meetings of the most important contemporary political figures and they are opened to the public eye almost every day (except for those days when official events take place), according to the visiting program.

casa_poporului1

http://www.casapoporului.ro/

There still is a lot of hard feeling around this building coming from some of the residents of Bucharest, as, to many of them, especially of older age, it represents a painful wound that reminds them of how Nicolae Ceausescu forced them to relocate from their elegant old mansions, in apartment buildings in different parts of the city, because the construction perimeter is settled on the area of the former bourgeois quarter “Uranus”, where everything was demolished from Ceausescu’s orders. We can conclude that every colossal masterpiece involves a great sacrifice.

The Romanian Parliament has 12 levels above the land surface – offering a spectacular view of the city – and eight levels underneath. Its substructure is also a subject of many urban myths, as it is believed that the hidden face of the building shelters a nuclear bunker and a net of mysterious catacombs that lead to secret escaping gates. But that is, of course, legend that adds to the remarkable character of the construction.

Whether it is true, or not, you can see it for yourself and reserve a day to visit the Romanian Parliament during the established program.

http://www.artline.ro/

 

 

Apr 08

GREECE – THE LAND OF LIGHT AND NEVER-ENDING MYSTERIES

The Olympic Riviera is definitely one of the most inspired choices when it comes to visiting Greece. If you want to have a relaxing holiday with the family, visit historical artifacts and religious sites, or, on the contrary, if you’re looking for vivid nightlife in a modern and cosmopolitan area, you can have it all-in-one – and much, much more – gathered in this amazing region watched over by the mythical gods.

http://cgcforum.gpanalysis.com/

Statue of Alexander the Great in Thessaloniki http://cgcforum.gpanalysis.com/

Situated in the Northern part of Greece (Continental Greece), in Central Macedonia, the Olympic Riviera lies all along the shore of the Aegean Sea, between the second largest city and most important port of Greece, Thessaloniki, and the worldwide known soft-sanded beaches towards the southern part of the regional unit of Pieria. The capital of Pieria is Katerini, a posh touristic town with numerous elegant cafés, tavernas and shopping spots, only a few minutes away from your accommodation place, if you take the local public transport.

beach

Olympic Riviera https://www.flickr.com/

One can speak endlessly about this ancient land, with millenary history and blending cultural influences, but the most poignant is the eternal mark of Alexander the Great, that can still be noticed, not only in the historical relics, but in people’s way to be: lively, passionate, dignified, self aware – as proud descendants of the illustrious leader.

The perfectly clear blue waters and the wide beaches have gained the European Blue Flag distinction, which marks the high level care for the environment. The most famous touristic resorts are Paralia Katerini, Olympiaki Akti, Leptokarya, Paralia Panteleimonas and Platamonas, but there are many other more quiet and less crowded small villages, where you can enjoy the tranquility of Aegean sunrises and delicious breakfasts prepared by your hospitable host. The low depth of the water is preferred particularly by the families with small children, but you can go on organized diving trips by boat, as well.

It does not matter which one of the above-mentioned resorts you are going to chose, as the distances between your place and the numerous sights that are not to be missed are pretty much the same; therefore, whether you decide to go to Paralia Katerini, or Nei Pori, you will find countless opportunities to go on a one-day trip to the (literally) other-worldly sight of Meteora, the gorgeous Isle of Skiathos, the colorful city of Thessaloniki, all the way “down” to old Athens, or to the beautiful village of Litochoro that will give you the feeling that you’re walking on the set of a Hollywood movie, and, of course, not miss the chance to visit the Mount Olympus National Park and pass across the residency of the Olympian gods. Do not expect them to expose themselves in front of you, but be sure that they are keeping an eye on you, while enjoying their ambrosias.

Leaving the jokes aside, the famous Olympus is made up of three major peaks: the highest is the Mytikas – the Peak of Zeus, the second is the Skolio, the third is Saint Stephen and their imposing presence has been guarding the surroundings since the days of yore.

It is quite difficult to describe any of these places in a few words, or decide which one is closer to your heart, but I suggest Meteora as the first must-see attraction.

The home of Greek Orthodoxy, together with Mount Athos, Meteora allows women to visit (you probably know already that at Athos the presence of women is forbidden). It is part of the U.N.E.S.C.O. Word Heritage and is the realm of the monks who live in monasteries built on high columns of smooth sandstone of a unique geological structure, believed to have been a former bottom of an ocean in unknown times, when Mother Earth was still creating herself. The surreal shape of these “towers” represented the perfect hiding place and protection against conquerors and, at the same time, it seems to bring you closer to the state of serenity and inner peace that devoted believers seek – hence the name Μετέωρα in Greek, meaning the center of the heavens, or suspended in the sky. Hence, the Christian ecclesiastic tradition has been kept undisturbed throughout the centuries between the quiet walls suspended in time and space and blessed by the divinity.

http://wallpapers.brothersoft.com/white-tower-96653.html

The White Tower of Thessaloniki http://wallpapers.brothersoft.com/

The six monasteries that are waiting for you to discover them are: the Holy Monastery of the Great Meteoron (also known as the Transfiguration of Jesus), The Holy Monastery of Varlaam, The Holy Monastery of Rousanou – St. Barbara, The Holy Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapausas, The Holy Monastery of St. Stephen and The Monastery of the Holy Trinity.

meteora

Meteora https://pixabay.com/

If the describing words for this place are: silence, piousness, tranquility, at the other end of the Olympian experience is Thessaloniki, one of the most vivid cities in the world. It was proudly named by Alexander the Great himself, after one of his sisters, and its historical path throughout the ages is beyond captivating. Guarded over by its emblem – the Thessaloniki Tower -, the city is known as the homeland of music and artists, but it hasn’t always been a fun place to be. As any strategic area, it had been the battlefield of countless conflagrations between the locals and the transient armies that thought they could subdue its untamed spirit. There’s a trace of melancholy in the temperament of its people that you can also sense in the song lyrics and the strains of the music eluding from the rembetika and filling the paved alleys of Ladadika district, late at night.

Ladadika https://www.pinterest.com/pin/417145984207805928/

Ladadika https://www.pinterest.com/

Need I say that the locals are real party animals and their music is so addictive that, when you return home, first thing you will do is attend dance classes, just to keep that feeling vivid?

The Greek people are well known for their proverbial kindness and sociability, features that are also found in the numerous accommodation spots that range from two stars, all the way up to five stars. No matter what your wallet suggests, you will always find the best conditions for a memorable holiday.

So, after you settle in your cozy hotel on the Olympic Riviera, you are one step away from the rest of the adventure!