Things to See and Do in Paris, France

With cobblestone streets, architectural feats, delicious pastries, bustling markets, and an atmosphere overflowing with history, it’s no wonder that Paris is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. With so many things to do and see, planning your visit to the City of Lights can seem overwhelming.

No matter where you travel to, planning an itinerary centered around your own unique interests is always the key to having a good time. That said, if you’re looking for a true Parisian experience, there are a number of tried-and-true things that deserve to be at the top of your list for things to see and do in Paris. To help give you a base upon which you can begin to build your own customized itinerary, below are four essential experiences everyone visiting Paris should have.

Eiffel Tower

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When you think of Paris, you likely think of its iconic Eiffel Tower. Considering it’s featured in more movies, photographs, and calendars than anyone can count, the Eiffel Tower is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Constructed by French engineer Gustave Eiffel for the World Exhibition of 1889, it was, at the time, the world’s tallest building at 312 meters. If you’re worried about heights, you’ll be happy to know that the construction of the tower is so sound that it never sways more than nine centimeters, even in strong winds.

The Eiffel Tower is most spectacular at night when the 20,000 lights lining every inch of the tower light up together in performance. These 200,000-watt light shows last five minutes and happen every hour on the hour starting at dusk and lasting until 1 a.m. In addition to the tower itself, the view from the top is a must-see. However, due to popularity and recently added security measures, if you wish to ride to the top of the Eiffel tower, you should reserve plenty of time for waiting.

Rue des Martyrs

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There are so many famous tourist attractions to check out in Paris that many of the smaller, more authentic experiences can be easily overlooked. One such experience is wandering Paris’s old market streets. Namely Rue des Martyrs. The street is an old historic route in the Pigalle district leading up to the village of Montmartre. Plus, it’s home to a neighborhood market that’s been in operation for over 200 years. Filling this market is around 200 shops and restaurants.

For foodies, it’s heaven. No matter your preferences, you’re bound to find something that lights up your palette. In fact, there are plenty of options for fruit, fish, pastries, chocolate, and gourmet cafés. If fashion takes priority, you can spend your time hopping from one chic boutique to another.

Louvre Museum

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There is your standard museum experience, then there is the Louvre. As the world’s largest art museum, the Louvre has 675,000 square feet filled with works from nearly every corner and civilization of the world. The museum is as interesting for history enthusiasts as it is for art connoisseurs. The three most famous and most popular pieces inside the museum are:

  • The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci;
  • Venus de Milo by Alexandros of Antioch, and;
  • Winged Victory of Samothrace.

To get the most out of your visit to the Louvre, you’re better off prioritizing pieces that actually interest you instead of going straight to the crowd-pleasers. Or, for a truly unique experience, you can go in with no plan at all. With over 35,000 pieces scattered throughout the Louvre, you’re bound to find something that interests you no matter where you go.

Notre-Dame de Paris

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If you grew up watching Disney movies, you likely came across The Hunchback of Notre Dame at some point in your childhood. While there may not be a hunchback currently inhabiting it, the Cathedral of Notre-Dame is certainly a real place and a must-see during your visit to Paris. The Cathedral of Notre-Dame’s real history is worth a feature film in itself. Although its foundation was first laid in 1163, it wasn’t until 170 years later that its design was actually fully constructed. Then, after nearly being destroyed during the French Revolution, the Cathedral was restored from 1841 to 1864 by architect Viollet-le-Duc.

On April 15, 2019, a fire caused severe damage to the Cathedral, especially the roof and spire. As a result, the Cathedral and its immediate surroundings are closed to the public. Despite the closure for reconstruction, tourists are encouraged to visit areas closeby to take pictures. So don’t let this unfortunate circumstance keep you from seeing this masterful piece of architecture.

10 Best Flight Deals To Europe

Finally committing to that backpacking trip you promised your friend in high school? Want to take in the sights on account of being a history buff? Traveling to see family? Regardless of your reason, Europe is an incredible destination for travel enthusiasts. Want to take a trip but don’t want to break the bank? Below are 10 ways to find European flight deals that will save you money.

Set Up Flight Alerts

If you know when you want to fly to Europe and where in Europe you want to fly to, you can set up flight alerts to let you know when a good deal becomes available so that you can jump on it immediately.

Some useful sites worth setting up flight alerts on include:

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Sign Up for Scott’s Cheap Flights

Despite its hobbyist-sounding name, Scott’s Cheap Flights is actually one of the best flight deal round-up services around. After signing up for free, you can opt to receive email alerts whenever a European (or otherwise) flight deal is available departing from your preferred airport, no matter where you are. They claim their service can help you save up to 90% on flight deals. Plus, if you’re willing to pay a very small annual fee, they can help you save even more by sending you “special premium-only deals”, mistake fares and rare deals, and peak season and holiday flights.

Sign Up for Secret Flying

Similar to Scott’s Cheap Flight, Secret Flying is another great way to gather all European flight deals together in one place. After signing up for free, they’ll email you daily flight deals departing from your area.

Prioritize the Cheapest Airports

According to data gathered by flight-booking service, Hopper, the ten cheapest airports to fly to in Europe are:

  1. London Gatwick Airport, England
  2. Vienna International Airport, Austria
  3. Berlin Tegel Airport, Germany
  4. Warsaw Chopin Airport, Poland
  5. Milano Linate Airport, Italy
  6. Dublin Airport, Ireland
  7. Copenhagen Airport, Denmark
  8. Milan Malpensa Airport, Italy
  9. Keflavik International Airport, Iceland
  10. Stockholm Arlanda Airport, Sweden
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Fly During the Cheapest Months

As with most places, Europe has both peak and off-peak travel seasons. To get the best possible flight deals, you’re going to want to schedule your trip for non-peak travel seasons. While these seasons naturally change from place to place within Europe, from late May/early June to the end of August is generally the busiest and most expensive time to travel to Europe. The late fall and winter months – from mid/late October through mid/late March – are often the cheapest time to fly (with the exception of December).

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Fly During the Cheapest Days of the Week

While not as predictable as the peak and off-peak season cycle, flying on certain days of the week can be another way to capitalize on flight deals. Compared to other days of the week, it’s often cheaper to fly mid-week, specifically on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but sometimes you can get similarly-cheap deals on Saturdays as well.

Take Advantage of the Cheapest Airlines

Prioritizing certain airlines can in itself help you find cheap European flight deals. Specifically, according to flight-booking service, Hopper, booking your flights to Europe with any of the following airlines will help you save money:

  1. Turkish Airlines (Round trips as low as $645 USD)
  2. SATA International (Round trips as low as $472 USD)
  3. Icelandair (Round trips as low as $580 USD)
  4. Norwegian Air (Round trips as low as $528 USD)
  5. XL Airways France (Round trips as low as $550 USD)
  6. WOW Air (Round trips as low as $288 USD)

For maximum savings, if possible, fly into any of the cheapest airports listed above using any of these airlines.

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Avoid Last-Minute Trips

This may just be more common sense, but booking a flight on the spot without any thought or research behind it is probably the most expensive way to fly, especially during any of the peak travel months described above. By planning out your trips in advance, you can do the research (through the methods described in this article) and track down deals for the most savings possible.

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Be Flexible about Where You Start

Europe is unique in that once you’re there, it’s pretty easy and affordable to navigate around to other surrounding countries. Even if you have a specific place in mind that you want to visit, in addition to researching flight deals for that specific place, research what it costs to fly into any surrounding areas as well. It might ultimately be cheaper to fly into a country next to the one you actually want to visit and then travel to it once you’re there.

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Take Advantage of Layovers

Layovers don’t have to be just sitting around in an airport watching guilty pleasure shows on your phone. Planned correctly, not only do long layovers result in cheaper flights, but they also give you the freedom to explore wherever it is you have your layover. Put simply, a day or multi-day layover is a great way to save money while experiencing an entirely new place.

As you can see, with a little research and planning, tracking down the best European flight deals is a breeze. Using any of the tips above, you’re bound to spend less flying across the pond.

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Interesting Facts About France

France is a popular tourist destination, especially for those who are looking for a romantic location, a place to explore and meet new people, or even just to relax on a beach. There’s so much conversation around this beautiful country that sometimes tourists think they understand the French culture and the history behind the country without doing any research. This incredible country deserves more research before you travel there so you can immerse yourself in the culture in a respectful and educated way.

Besides having the best taste in fashion and beautiful architecture, there are things you must understand before meeting the French face to face. An example of this is that the French find it very respectful to be greeted in French. Imagine if you went to France not knowing that! You would not leave a good first impression in your wake. Read through these interesting facts about France and familiarize yourself with the culture before visiting the country of love.

1. The French Love Their Cheese

When you think of food in France, chances are, you’re thinking about wine, cheese, and croissants. While it may be called a stereotype in some circles, it really is the truth! France takes great pride in its high-quality cheeses, as well as the amount of variety they have to offer.

To be exact, there are up to 1200 varieties of cheese made in France which weigh around 1 billion tonnes. 1 billion! If you thought your family eats a lot of cheese, chances are, the French eat more.

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2. France is the First Country to Make Throwing Out or Burning Food Illegal

If you want to take a peek into what North America’s future may look like, take a look at France. At many grocery stores in Canada and the United States, it’s actually illegal to give away leftover supermarket food. In fact, this rule applies to food that is still perfectly good.

However, as of 2016, France has made it illegal to throw away unsold food that is perfectly edible. Instead of tossing it in the trash, you must donate all unsold food so those who need to eat, can benefit from stores having a surplus of food.

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3. The Word “Salut” Has Two Meanings

In English, every word has an unmistakable meaning. For example, if you were to say “Hello Friend!” no one would ever think you were saying goodbye. While this is quite convenient in English to ensure proper communication of a single message, the French are a little more complex.

The word “Salut” is used as a greeting and as a goodbye. If you are touring France, don’t be surprised if you realize that your conversations with the locals begin and end with the same word. If this is too complicated for you to catch on to, you can always say “Bonjour” for hello, and “Au Revoir” for goodbye.

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4. The French Love Their Sleep

Do you ever feel like you’re a hamster that cannot get off the hamster wheel of business? Many Americans and Canadians feel that way, however, we need to catch up with France. While we are running around to work, then soccer, making supper then running off to a social event, the French are sleeping! They place a high value on their sleep and may even get more sleep than you do!

On average, the French get approximately 8.83 hours of sleep per day. Sleep is so crucial to our well-being that we should make it a higher priority in our lives. Getting more sleep could also reduce stress and illnesses! Hopefully, when you travel to France, you can get lots of rest along with the rest of the country.

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5. Some “French” Food Isn’t Actually French

While you may be eating French fries and French toast in preparation for your upcoming France trip, you may want to stick to indulging in wines, cheese, and croissants. This is because French toast and French fries were not actually made in France!

French fries were actually introduced to the American soldiers during World War one by Belgian soldiers who spoke French. As such, the Americans called them French Fries. As for French toast, it can be traced back to being in existence during the Roman Empire.

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6. The Eiffel Tower is Named After a Special Individual

If you thought the Eiffel tower has always been a beloved landmark in France, think again. When it was first built, the tower was considered very ugly by most people. It really took quite a while for people to warm up to it.

The Eiffel tower is named after the mastermind and genius who designed it. Gustave Eiffel was this tower’s engineer who took all the backlash after creating it. If only he could see now how popular his best art piece is today.

 

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7. Greet The French In A Respectful Way

When you meet a tourist in your own country, it always feels good when they know how to say a few things in your language. The French are no exception to this courtesy when you are visiting their country. Many French citizens speak a variety of languages and expect tourists to do the same.

Before traveling to France, make sure you are able to order food from a restaurant, ask where the washrooms are, and how to say “I’m lost”. That last one will serve you well once you arrive to this busy city. Another phrase that is important to learn is how to tell locals that you are very sorry but you do not speak very much French. While they may prefer to communicate in their language, your attempt at speaking French will be much better received than just speaking in English.

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8. Not All Of France Speaks French

Coming from North America, it can be hard to picture what the landscape of Europe looks like, especially how close every country is. One side of France is actually connected to Italy, making the French along that border very fluent in Italian.

Much like greeting the French in French, always ensure that you are extending this courtesy no matter where you are in the country. If you find that you are surrounded by more French people who speak Italian, make sure you have a few Italian phrases in your back pocket. This is also a wonderful aspect of the country’s landscape and would be an excellent cost-effective way to experience a variety of cultures in such a small area.

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9. France has the Most Time Zones in the World

Did you know that the United States has 6 time zones? From ocean to ocean, desert to desert, there is such a diverse range of landscape and time zones here in North America. It truly demonstrates how incredibly vast this country is. Or does it?

Surprisingly, France is a tiny country compared to Canada or the United States but it is riddled with time change no matter where you go. France actually has 12 different times zones. This can change in a matter of hours, so it’s important for you to keep your eye on the clock and constantly check to see what the time zone is in your area so ensure you are on schedule.

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10. Tour De France Is A Lot Older Than Most People

The idea of a  bicycle race through a gorgeous city sounds like a fairly modern development. A bunch of people in bright, athletic company-sponsored gear getting broadcasted across the world is also quite modern.

However, the truth of the matter is the first race was on July 1, 1903, making this incredible, 23-day long bike race over 100 years old! Can you imagine what those athletes were wearing for that first race? Certainly not Nike or Adidas! If you’re traveling to France in July, this is something you will definitely not want to miss. If you’re feeling extra enthusiastic, you can wear yellow to match the jersey of the person who is winning the race on each leg of the race.

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11. Roundabouts Control Traffic

France has one way to keep traffic flowing in the city centers and that does not include stopping at stop signs. While this may sound dangerous, roundabouts contribute to encouraging the natural flow of traffic throughout cities to help with traffic jams.

France loves their roundabouts so much that they have more than half of the world’s roundabouts right there in France. The thing is to remember to yield to anyone who is already in the roundabout and signal when you are ready to exit. This ensures safe entry and exit so you don’t have to deal with getting in a car accident on your vacation.

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12. Historial Sites Are Common In France

If you are looking for incredible sights to see in France that carry a lot of historical meaning, head to any of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. UNESCO stands for The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization which is actually based in Paris, France.

In many places, UNESCO sites are forests, lakes, rivers, and other incredible natural terrains. However, in France, the architecture and historical value of entire towns are protected under UNESCO. This gives tourists an amazing opportunity to see locations where major historical events happened without worrying about the sites being destroyed.

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13. France Is Popular Among Tourists

If you’re looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of life, you can find some peace and quiet in the countryside of France. In contrast, the cities are very busy and packed with tourists. This makes it an amazing place to meet new people from all over the world and to enjoy the exciting buzz of civilization.

France is the number one most visited country in the world, so you can be sure that you will not be the only ones stopping for a photo in front of the Eiffel Tower, or buying a baguette for the first time at a bakery.

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14. Raise Children Well, Get Rewarded

Sometimes it feels as if parents who work hard to raise fantastic kids don’t get the credit they deserve. Well, France has a solution for that and it comes in the form of a medal! This may add pressure to parents, but at the same time, maybe it’s a healthy pressure to ensure that each child has their needs met, and they become contributing citizens to the country of France.

The medal is called the Medal of the French Family and it is awarded to those who have raised several children with dignity. If you are considering moving to France, chances are, you’ll be surrounded by some very involved and responsible parents who care deeply for the well-being of their children.

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15. The French Take Reading Very Seriously

If you are an avid reader and are looking to do some serious French reading, well, Marcel Proust’s book called A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu will not leave you empty-handed. This is the world’s longest novel and consists of 13 volumes!

The English translation of this book title is “Remembrance of Things Past”. If you have a hard time keeping up with complicated plots like from the movie Inception, this may not be the book for you. With 3,000 pages forging through a grand story, you can be sure to find many, many different plots woven together into a beautiful symphony of imagination.

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16. Visit The Birthplace of Napoleon

You’ve probably heard of the French icon named Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon was born in Corsica, a beautiful French island, which is located in the Mediterranean sea. Not only is it a French island, but it is one of the 18 regions of France that you won’t want to miss.

It is truly impossible to capture the beauty of this place in words or photos. The water is a flawless aquamarine blue, the buildings reflect the history of the island with incredible architecture and bright colors, and the beaches are to die for. If you are looking for a tropical vacation in Europe that will simultaneously make you feel like you’re in the Bahamas, this is the island for you.

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17. France Has Art Outside Of Art Galleries

While France is renowned for its one-of-a-kind museums that house some of the most iconic pieces of art in the entire world, it’s landscape is also hiding some artwork in other places. While we find artwork that is 100 years old to be impressive, the most impressive artwork is located on French walls of stone. The Lascaux Caves give viewers an inside look into what life on earth looked like around 200,000 years ago.

It truly creates a reflective environment where viewers are humbled by the beauty and intelligence that has preceded them. The Paleolithic artwork on the interior of these stunning caves is located in the region of Dordogne which is in the south-east area of France.

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18. France Invented A System Of Measurement

As if France needed any more credit for creating icons, geniuses, and beauty in just about every way, they had the mathematical world covered as well. Gabriel Mouton was a vicar at St. Paul’s Church which is located in Lyons, France. He introduced the concept of a decimal system, which ended up being the beginning of a massive change in measurement starting in the late 1600s.

As such, if you are used to the Imperial method of measurement, adjusting to the Metric system may be a bit of a shock to your brain. Before traveling to France, make sure you have an idea of the difference between miles and kilometers, inches and centimeters, and Fahrenheit versus Celsius. This is a great way to stay informed in case you get lost, or are trying to plan out your next few days of travel.

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19. Women Are Finally Legally Allowed To Wear Pants

While this law was not actually enforced consistently, Paris, France was a little behind on the women’s empowerment movement. This was probably because no one in France truly paid attention to it anymore, but just the same, the law needed to be updated!

According to the law, women needed to gain permission from the local police if they wanted to “dress like a man” and wear trousers. Thankfully, in 2013, the French government overturned this very outdated law and now, Parisian women are free to wear whatever they want.

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20. The Name “France” Isn’t French

Ironically, the name France is technically not French. France is actually from a Germanic tribe and the original name was actually Frank. This word meant “free” which is why it was chosen for this beautiful, progressive country.

The original name of France was Gaul, however, when the Germanic barbarian tribe destroyed the Gauls, the name France came into existence. This tribe was called Frank, hence the name of the free tribe which now owned France.

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The BBC and Masterpiece Classics Tour: 10 Film Locations

From the verdant rolling hills of the English countryside to historic estates dating back centuries, follow in the footsteps of your favorite Masterpiece Classics and BBC television series like the Highclere Castle in Hampshire from Downton Abbey and the Yorkshire Dales of All Creatures Great and Small fame. Put on your London Fog trench coat, hop in a vintage Mini Cooper, and get ready for pints, tea and biscuits as you explore the same spots that inspired the legendary tales of Agatha Christie and James Herriot. Set against the romantic backdrop of the English countryside; discover the film locations of your favorite British television shows.

All Creatures Great and Small: Yorkshire Dales

Besides the cars on the roads, the Yorkshire Dales has remained largely unchanged with its rolling hills, old stone churches, and bubbling streams. Hop in a rental, put on your London Fog, and get ready to follow the same path as James Herriot from All Creatures Great and Small. First stop is Cringley House on Main Street, which served as the Skeldale House and vet headquarters in the series. Now the historic building is a Bed and Breakfast located in Askrigg, which gives James Harriott fans the chance to stay in the original house. Then, after filling up on tea and toast, or a full English breakfast, head to Holy Trinity Church, another film location and an Anglican landmark dating back to 1719. A good place to end a day of sightseeing the Yorkshire Dales is Kings Arms Hotel, known in the series as Drover’s Arms and still the same place where all the locals gather for pints and gossip.

Downton Abbey: Highclere Castle

Get ready to enter a world of opulent luxury and century old architecture of the romantic English countryside. Welcome to Highclere Castle, a Jacobethan style mansion in Hampshire and also the filming location of the popular Masterpiece Classics series Downton Abbey. Open to the public from July to September, visitors get a chance to wander into the same rooms that were filmed in the hit show, including the drawing room where Maggie Smith frequently offered pithy comments to unfortunate family members. Situated 5 miles south of Newbury, Berkshire, the castle is the country seat of the Earl of Carnarvon, and is still in the family name today. It was originally built in 1839 on the foundations of the crumbling medieval palace of the Bishops of Winchester. The classical style mansion reflects a mix of Victorian revival of English architecture that was popular at the time.

Poldark: Cornwall

The new series on Masterpiece Classics, Poldark, relives the life and ties of Cornwall haves and have nots of the 18th century. Situated on the cliffs of south west England, Cornwall is a rustic countryside filled with treasures and relics from long ago days. In fact, Charleston has a collection of vintage ships and traditional stone buildings, making it ideal for filming period pieces. Another hidden treasure featured in the series is Porthgwarra, an ancient fish cove that is now used as a beautiful swimming and snorkeling spot. Further along the coast are stone buildings of the Levant Mine that rests like an ancient medieval fortress nestled in the cliffs. Further along the coast is the Padstow area, a region of green cliffs and fields of barley, the perfect backdrop for period melodrama.

Campion: The Suffolk Coast

The Suffolk Coast has all the standards you would expect from the English countryside: Elizabethan mansions, perfectly manicured gardens, and ancient paths with brooks and old woodlands. In BBC’s retelling of Campion, the Margery Allingham mysteries, the show centers around Campion, a private small-time sleuth who hob nobs with aristocrats always up to no good, unless it was the butler. In any case, follow the same wooded trails to the quaint village of Dedham for a day out in the country. Along the way, there are plenty of places for tea and biscuits, like the Bridge Cottage, a 16th century, well-preserved thatch cottage in Flatford. From there, head to St. Mary-the-Virgin church and see up close the architecture from the 14th century. A leisurely 5-minute stroll leads to Willy Lott’s House, a 16th century mansion that is featured in Constable’s painting “The Hay Wain” (1821).

Land Girls: Arbury Hall

Standing in for the fictional Hoxley Manor in the BBC series Land Girls, Arbury Hall in Nuneaton is a rare example of early Gothic Revival and Tudor architecture. Built in 1586, the Elizabethan mansion still retains its authentic magnificence with its 300 acres of perfectly manicured lawns, ancient woodlands, and the verdant rolling hills of Warwickshire, England. The mansion has been in the Newdegate family for 400 years and in the 18th century, Sir Roger Newdegate transformed it into an opulent, luxurious palace, making it ideal for period film locations set in the English countryside. The estate has also been featured in George Eliot’s “Scenes of a Clerical Life,” a collection of short stories published in 1857. Today, the estate and gardens are open to the public on Bank Holiday weekends from April to August, the perfect time to see the flowers in full bloom.

Endeavor: Oxford, England

In the mystery series Endeavor, the latest reboot of the BBC show Inspector Morse, the ancient town of Oxford is the setting where the young inspector tracks down suspects and cracks impossible murder cases. Dating back to the 11th century, Oxford still contains original stonewalls, structures, and churches from the Medieval era, including the University of Oxford, one of the oldest colleges in the world. Also featured in the Harry Potter movies, Oxford is like an outdoor museum with tales of the ancient world on every corner. A good place to start a walking tour is the Carfax Tower, which is located in the city center at Queen and High Street. A cherished historical landmark, the tower is all that remains of the 12th century St. Martin’s Church. Visitors are also welcomed to tour the gardens and buildings of the University of Oxford, the crown jewel of Oxfordshire.

Sherlock Holmes: London

Find your inner sleuth, the English version, and head for London, the very streets where Arthur Conon Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes enthralled his contemporaries with his genius detective skills and odd manners. In the latest BBC version of the classic mystery, Sherlock Holmes, follow a trail of clues around the city. First stop is Baker Street, one of the most famous addresses in London, so popular in fact, most days it is congested with fan traffic, forcing the film crew to replace it with 87 North Gower Street. Devotees of the show might recognize Speedy’s Café beneath the apartment of Holmes and Mrs. Hudson. Just like Holmes in “A Scandal in Belgravia,” visitors can sit down and watch for clues over an evening meal. Then take a stroll to Russell Square Garden, the serene patch of green in Bloomsbury and featured in the very first episode of Sherlock.

Mr. Selfridge: London

Enter the historic streets and old buildings of England’s Edwardian era in the Masterpiece Classics period drama Mr. Selfridge. Filmed on the streets of Neaseden, the series transforms the neighborhood back to the early 20th century with vintage automobiles, top hats, and handbags. Although it has become modernized with the Chalkill housing estate built in the 1970s, many of the original buildings and cottages remain, making it a worthwhile stop on a trip to London. Keep walking and you’ll reach Wembley Park, which contains England’s main football stadium and the stages of the Wembley Arena, a major entertainment venue. If you want a taste of the English aristocracy, stop by Wrotham Park in Hertfordshire, which is featured as Lord Loxley’s mansion interiors in London.

Bleak House: Hertfordshire, United Kingdom

In southern England, you’ll find more relics from old world aristocracy, including several historic estates and gardens in Hertfordshire where the BBC Masterpiece Classics mini-series Bleak House was filmed. For a Charles Dickens period piece, the area is perfect with its expansive rolling hills and stately mansions. A good place to start is the Hatfield House, a Jacobean style mansion that has the embellishments of a typical estate in the English countryside. Visitors also have the chance to explore the surviving wing of the Tudor Palace, the very place where Elizabeth I spent her childhood. After a day of exploring, get ready to experience the life of the Dukes and Ladies at the luxurious Hertfordshire Spa, a retreat at the historic estate of Broxbourne. Relax after a spa day with top shelf Brandy, ornate chandeliers, and all the relics from the age of opulence.

Wolf Hall: Montacute, Somerset, United Kingdom

Set in a world of betrayal, revenge, and melodrama is the incredible true story of the English Monarchy and its tumultuous saga. In the Masterpiece Classics version, prepare to enter the world of the cutthroat court of Henry VIII in Wolf Hall, a retelling of the classic real-life tragedy. Filmed at Montacute House in Somerset, England, step foot on the same hollowed grounds that represent the Greenwich Palace, Henry VIII’s primary London seat and the site of Anne Boleyn’s arrest. The surrounding gardens also provide a spectacular backdrop for jousting and archery of the kings and dukes of old. After touring the grounds where the romance between Henry and Anne blossomed, stop in for a traditional English meal at the café or bring your own lunch for a picnic on the lawn. For a longer stay, visitors have the option of staying overnight at the South Lodge holiday cottage.

10 Memorable Places Best Visited By Cruise Ship

When planning your next vacation, there are a variety of trips you can go on. Will you fly to an all-inclusive resort and lay on the beach? Will you rent a car and go on a road trip down a beautiful coastline? How about a backpacking adventure? One of the options that is always present, is going on a cruise. Cruises are a great way to see a variety of locations in a short amount of time, while travelling in comfort and class. The best part about a cruise, is that you only have to unpack once!

 

1. Alaska

Visit this isolated and chilly part of the world from the comfort of a cozy cruise ship cabin. You are able to see Humpback Wales, Bears, Hawks and Moose, just to name a few of our animal friends that will be waiting for you in Alaska. Denali National Park is also one of the sites you can explore on some Alaskan cruises and it features the highest point in North America.

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2. Hawaii

With so many islands and a limited amount of holiday time, cruises are a great way to get a taste of each Hawaiian island in a short time span. Many Hawaiian cruises will feature a lot of the Hawaiian culture and traditions to help you feel like you’re on an island, even when you’re cruising through the ocean. When the boat makes stops, there are so many once in a lifetime opportunities to try out on each island such a helicopter tours, hiking, rafting and so much more. The scenery is to die for!

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3. Caribbean

If you are wanting to go on a trip to the Caribbean, it can be difficult to decide where to go and what island to see. On a cruise ship, you can see a wide variety of the Caribbean islands. Then, in a few years you can fly to the island that was your favorite on the cruise and make the most of that location. Another winning factor of going on a cruise here, is that it is very family oriented.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

 

4. Mediterranean

Are you looking for a visually stunning location with tons of history? Take a Mediterranean cruise, and I promise, you will not be disappointed! These cruises are ideal for mature, adult travellers who are looking for some enriching experiences and peacefulness.

Photo By: Shutterstock

 

 

5. Norway

Throw on a thick sweater, a good book and some slippers and cruise around Norway. These cruises are special because of the amount of daylight that is present for a large portion of each day. It allows you to see the maximum amount of scenery in a good amount of time. You also get to experience entering the Arctic Circle where there is a noticeable change in the water, temperature and overall climate.

Photo By: Shutterstock

 

 

6. The Cook Islands

When you see islands like this, you probably think it’s in the Caribbean. The actual fact is that this set of islands is halfway in between Hawaii and New Zealand. It has an untouched quality about it and the best part about it is that there is no bad time to visit! The lowest temperature in the winter is 18 degrees Celsius. See all of the Cook Islands on a breathtaking cruise to ensure you won’t miss a thing.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

 

7. The Nile

Have you ever considered cruising down the Nile River? The best time to go is between October and April for between 3-7 days. These cruises allow you to visit many historical sites such as the Valley Of The Kings and countless temples. You also have the opportunity to hire a private tour guide to show you all the sites along the way.

Photo By: Shutterstock

 

 

8. Australia and New Zealand

Aside from the stunning views and peaceful locations, this cruise will lead you and your loved ones to the Great Barrier Reef to see incredible fish and other wildlife. Your experience of a lifetime will also be highlighted by cruising through the Tasmanian Wilderness where you will see more wildlife and breathtaking locations.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

 

9. The Baltic

Where does a Baltic cruise go you ask? It travels to Russia, Estonia, Poland and Germany, just to name a few locations. The incredible architecture and historic locations are enough to convince you to sign up for one of these tours. One advantage is that there is very short distances between ports because there is so much to explore. You will be transported to a fairy tale when you are walking through these magical old towns.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

 

10. England, Scotland and Ireland

When you think of a cruise, you probably don’t think of these countries first. As someone who has been on a ship in the Irish Sea, I can say it is completely worth it. See ruins of castles and heart stopping landscapes that make incredible photos. These cruises also feature culturally accurate cuisine so you won’t miss out on the perks of the mainland.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

The Fairy Tale Tour: 10 Best Medieval Castles in Europe

Since ancient times, Europe has been layered in history, and one of the best ways to see the culmination of different architectural styles is the famous castles. Many started out as medieval fortresses that served as strategic defense systems against nearby invaders. After the 15th century wars, royalty and aristocrats transformed many of the crumbling fortress into opulent, captivating pleasure chateaus that inspired Walt Disney and other famous fairy tale writers. From Rapunzel to Cinderella to Belle of Beauty and the Beast, discover the ancient medieval castles of Europe at these 10 stone fortresses.

10. Chateau de Chenonceau -Chenonceaux, France

Walt Disney drew inspiration for Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World from several castles in Europe, including the Chateau de Chenonceau, the crown jewel of France’s Loire Valley. Situated on the river Cher in the small village of Chenonceaux, the chateau is one of the most visited private historical monuments in France. With its magical five arches and four corner turrets, it’s a lasting relic of medieval Gothic architecture with a touch of ornate Renaissance detailing. Such an enchanting palace is fit for Cinderella and Prince Charming, especially the moat filled with swans and richly decorate rooms with paintings by Rubens, Le Tintoret, and other great masters. Like a page out of a fairy tale, Chenonceau is a treasured castle of the Loire Valley and a testament to the passion and influence of the French Renaissance.

Chateau de Chenonceau

9. Windsor Castle -Berkshire, United Kingdom

Another quintessential fairy tale castle is Windsor Castle built by William the Conqueror in the 11th century. Today, the ancient medieval fortress is still the primary castle of the royal family. Although it suffered a fire in 1992, it was renovated a few years later and fully restored to its original glory, including Gothic turrets and towers, and romantic moat, all cornerstones of a fairy tale castle. The castle was also a favorite spot for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert who were the first monarchies to open parts of the fortress to the public. Now, visitors have the chance of seeing the same rooms where royalty entertained top aristocrats and dignitaries. Head to Berkshire and begin the long walk to the enchanting castle, which is considered one of the finest examples of English Perpendicular Gothic architecture.

Kiev.Victor / Shutterstock.com
Kiev.Victor / Shutterstock.com

8. Chateau Fontainebleau -Loire Valley, France

You might recognize the towers, moats, and turrets of the Chateau Fontainebleau from Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle, since Disney is noted to have drawn inspiration from this Loire Valley treasure. With its French Renaissance style architecture and famous horseshoe staircase, the castle is the perfect setting for princesses and visiting royalty. Today, France’s largest castle is a World Heritage Site and national museum where visitors can tour the boudoir of Marie-Antoinette, the throne room of Napoleon, and the apartment of the Pope. The Fontainebleau started out as a fortified castle in the 12th century. After the wars of the 15th century, castles were no longer a viable defense, so Francis I decided to rebuild the crumbling medieval fortress and transform it into a lavish pleasure palace in the 16th century. Later on it was taken over by Henry II and Catherine de’ Medici who continued to expand the chateau.

Chateau Fontainebleau France

7. Prague Castle -Prague, Czech Republic

The city of Prague is full of some of the best-preserved medieval, Classical, and Renaissance architecture in Europe, making it a real life fairy tale town with Prague Castle as its crowning achievement. Situated on a hill overlooking the Charles Bridge, the Prague Castle is home to centuries-old myths and legends passed down through the generations. Popular Czech fairy tales were set here, including Dalibor’s Tower where the Knight Dalibor of Kozojedy was imprisoned. It also was the setting for Golden Lane, the age-old tale of alchemists trying to invent gold. Looming above the Vltava river, the castle overlooks the ancient city like a fairy tale fortress with spires, towers, and enormous palaces. Meander through the galleries, historic buildings, and museums to catch a glimpse of Prague’s most beloved national treasures.

Prague Castle

6. Krivoklat Castle -Bohemia, Czech Republic

Krivoklat Castle in central Bohemia is classic fairy tale with its ancient towers, stone turrets, and Gothic detailing, making it an ideal setting for the movie The Brothers Grimm (2005). Built in the 12th century by Bohemian kings, it got several major overhauls by powerful members of the monarchy. Later on, the castle suffered some setbacks, including several fires that caused considerable damage. But luckily, Krivoklat has a fairy tale ending. During a wave of romantic époque in the 19th century, the family of Furstenberg saved the castle from ruin and had it rebuilt with a glorious mix of Gothic, Classical, and Neo-Renaissance styles. During that time, aristocrats all over Europe were transforming crumbling fortresses into lavish palaces, a trend that symbolized the lasting legacy of wealth and idealism of the Renaissance.

Krivoklat Castle

5. Chateau de Chambord -Loire Valley, France

After the wars of 15th century, the French aristocrats and royalty saw the idyllic countryside of the Loire Valley as the perfect spot for building extravagant pleasure castles, many which were Walt Disney’s inspiration for Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World. In fact, the Chateau de Chambord is among them, particularly for its 16th century turrets, Gothic towers, Renaissance style detailing, and opulent interiors. If you look closely at Disney’s version, it looks very similar to Chambord, making it a real-life castle out of a fairy tale. Standing out against the lush, verdant landscape of the French countryside, the chateau contains all the fairy tale touchstones, including a swan-filled moat, hundreds of ancient frescoes, and fancywork ceilings. In its heyday, it drew 16th and 17th century A-listers, including visiting dignitaries and high society aristocrats.

Chateau de Chambord

4. Bran Castle -Transylvania, Romania

Commonly referred to as Dracula’s Castle, Bran Castle in Transylvania, Romania, was the setting for the world famous Bram Stoker’s Dracula, making it a top destination in Europe. Built in 1211 as a customs post along the mountain pass from Transylvania to Walladia, it also served as a defense against the Ottoman Empire. Vlad Tepes, the real-life man characterized as Dracula, never actually resided in the castle but stayed in the dungeon for two days when the Ottomans invaded Romania. An exciting way to see the castle is by an authentic 19th century horse and carriage ride that will bring you through the countryside and to the Gothic gates of Dracula’s Castle. Once inside, get ready to enter an ancient, medieval world where time stands still.

Bran Castle

3. Blenheim Palace -Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England

Serving as the backdrop to Disney’s live action version of Cinderella starring Cate Blanchett, Blenheim Palace is considered England’s crowning glory and an architectural achievement of the ages. Built in the English Baroque style in the 18th century, the castle was commissioned to celebrate the victory over the French in the War of the Spanish Succession. Designed by Sir John Vangrugh, the monumental country house is till home to the ancestors of the dukes of Marlborough who opened its doors to the public in 1950. The palace has had its share of ups and downs, particularly at the end of the 19th century when it was saved from ruin by the 9th Duke of Marlborough and restored to its former glory. The surrounding gardens are full of ancient oaks and tranquil moats, a classic example of English landscaping.

Amra Pasic / Shutterstock.com
Amra Pasic / Shutterstock.com

2. Mont Saint-Michel -Normandy, France

Situated in Normandy is Mont Saint-Michel, one of the most revered and culturally significant chateaus in France. It also inspired the depiction of Rapunzel’s castle in Disney’s animated feature Tangled. Like many castles in Europe, its origins can be traced back to medieval times when the island was a fortified defense system strategically located at the mouth of the Couesnon River near Avranches. Since the 10th century, the castle has undergone extensive renovations and rebuilding, the most significant construction in the 17th and 18th centuries. In the 11th century, William de Volpiano, an Italian architect, designed the abbey in the Romanesque style followed by the building of Gothic elements in the 12th century. Opened year round, pilgrims, tourists, and locals travel here to see some of the best-preserved medieval architecture in Europe.

Mont Saint-Michel

1. Neuschwanstein Castle -Fussen, Germany

Of all the enchanting fairy tale castles in Europe, Neuschwanstein Castle in Fussen, Germany is one of Europe’s top destinations and the most-visited castle in the country. Built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, the architectural design was actually inspired by the fairy tale operas of world-renowned composer Richard Wagner. In fact, his ballet opera “New Swan Castle” was set at Neuschwanstein, which also inspired Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle at Disney World. Also known as the “Fairy tale King,” Ludwig cherished Wagner’s fairy tales so much that he designed the castle and interiors based on his characters. In fact, when it was built in the 19th century, a time when European castles were no longer a strategic or viable defense, it was considered by many to be extravagant and over-the-top, even for a king. But today, the village of Fussen treasures its grand castle, which is now a major tourist destination.

Neuschwanstein Castle

10 Things to See and Do in Oxford, England

Located in the central southern part of England, Oxford, a city of a little more than 150,000, is world renowned for its university. But the city has much more to offer than just the University of Oxford. There are luxurious hotels to stay in, and many attractions for visitors to explore. You can visit one of their world class museums, eat at one of their many eating establishments, catch a show at one of the theaters or admire the wonderful architecture of the churches, university, or Oxford Castle and take a stroll through the Harcourt Arboretum while visiting. The old-world beauty is sure to impress.

1. Pitt Rivers Museum

Located to the east of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, the Pitt Rivers Museum features archaeological and anthropological exhibits. Founded in 1884, Augustus Pitt Rivers donated his collection with the condition that a permanent anthropological lecturer be appointed. Even in present day, the staff of the museum are involved in teaching archaeology and anthropology at the University. The collections are fascinating and eerie. You will see skulls, shrunken heads, an era by era paleontology display, a Dodo and more that you can’t just see anywhere. The museum caters to all ages even offering a paper and pencil to visitors to find different species of dinosaur to make it even more interesting and a challenge to keep younger people excited to explore further. You’ll need several hours to browse this excellent, one-of-a-kind and vast collection.

Gordon Bell / Shutterstock.com
Gordon Bell / Shutterstock.com

2. Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Providing the only access to Pitt Rivers Museum, the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, also known simply as Oxford University Museum, exhibits natural history specimens and contains a lecture theater. If you want to visit Pitt Rivers Museum, you will also want to work a visitation of this museum into your agenda. Founded in 1860, the collection consists of geological and zoological specimens. The building itself is a sight to behold with its neo-Gothic architecture. Some of its more popular exhibits are the Oxfordshire dinosaurs, the Dodo and swifts in the tower. With more than 250,000 specimens, the zoological collection contains numerous endangered and extinct species. The Dodo exhibit is the most complete remains of that species in the world. Other collections worth mentioning include those of Thomas Bell, William Burchell and Charles Darwin. Between the two museums, you will need an entire day to take it all in.

Lyudmila Voronova / Shutterstock.com
Lyudmila Voronova / Shutterstock.com

3. Sheldonian Theatre

Built between 1664 and 1669, and named after chancellor of the university at the time, Gilbert Sheldon, who was also the financial backer, the Sheldonian Theatre hosts music concerts, lectures and University ceremonies. When you enter the theater, you will be mesmerized by the breathtaking ceiling painted by Robert Streater. You can then venture to the Cupola where you have an incredible 360° panoramic view of Oxford. You can venture through the theater on your own or book a guided tour and hear about the history as you take in the sights. If you’re really lucky, you can attend a concert when on your vacation. Just make sure to check their schedule before booking your vacation and you can purchase tickets with great seats before you go.

Sheldonian Theatre

4. Christ Church Picture Gallery

Located at Christ Church, the Christ Church Picture Gallery is an art museum featuring about 300 Old Master paintings and almost 2,000 drawings. It is considered one of the most important collections in the United Kingdom with a major part of the collection being donated by General John Guise upon his death in 1765. Since then, there have been other gifts and bequests by names such as W.T.H. Fox-Strangways, Walter Savage Landor, Sir Richard Nosworthy and C.R. Patterson. The works on display here have no equal anywhere in the world. You will be totally enthralled in the magnificence of the collection and the spiritual messages contained in them. It’s a hidden treasure within Christ Church offering a spectacular exhibit, a quiet atmosphere and memories to last a lifetime.

e X p o s e / Shutterstock.com
e X p o s e / Shutterstock.com

5. Harcourt Arboretum

Run by the University of Oxford, Harcourt Arboretum is an arboretum and a satellite of the university’s botanical garden and covers approximately 130 acres (.61 km2). Approximately 10 acres (40,000 m2) consists of typical English woodland and another 37 acres (150,000 m2) is a summer flowering meadow. The core of the arboretum consists of the Pinetum featuring giant redwoods and monkey-puzzle trees. It was originally designed to create an impressive entrance to the Nuneham House located about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) away. It’s a beautiful natural utopia well worth the visit. They offer guided tours, backpacks and seasonal trails for you to enjoy. When you borrow a backpack, it is chock full of activities to help focus your walk around the 130 acres. The arboretum is open to the general public all year round.

Harcourt Arboretum Oxford
Photo by: University of Oxford

6. Oxford Castle

Located on the western side of central Oxford in Oxfordshire, he Oxford Castle is a large, party ruined Norman medieval castle. Originally, the castle was moated and consisted of wooden mote and bailey. By the end of the 18th century, most of the castle was destroyed and the remaining buildings became the local prison. In 1996, the prison was closed and redeveloped as a hotel. The remains of the castle, including the mote, St. George’s Tower and the crypt are now Grade 1 listed buildings and a Scheduled Monument. You can take a guided tour through the castle and let the characters tell you about the 1,000 year old history of the building. You can climb up St. George’s Tower and take in the views of the city, descend into the 900 year old crypt and explore Debtors’ Tower and Prison D-Wing. It’s a medieval adventure for the entire family.

Oxford Castle

7. Oxford Playhouse

Located on Beaumont Street in Oxford, the Oxford Playhouse is an independent theater for everyone of all ages and backgrounds. It hosts a wide variety of live performances including British and International drama, family shows, contemporary music and dance, student and amateur shows, comedies, lectures and poetry. The Playhouse also hosts its own productions and tours its own shows. It hosts Artists in Residence and an off-site events on an ongoing basis. Some of the shows currently being performed include: SANCHO: An Act of Remembrance, Handbagged, EAST is EAST, Arrest that Poet!, You’re Getting Warmer, and Charlotte Sometimes, just to name a few. It promises to provide all the entertainment and talent you could possibly expect from a world-class playhouse. It’s a great experience for the entire family.

By OxfordPlayhouse - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21982224
By OxfordPlayhouseOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21982224

8. The Headington Shark

Located at 2 New High Street, Headington in Oxford, the Headington Shark is a rooftop sculpture sure to capture your attention. The sculpture depicts an over-sized shark embedded head first into the roof of a house. The sculpture weighs 4 long hundredweight (200 kg), is 25 feet (7.6 m) long, and is constructed of painted fiberglass. The shark first appeared on the roof in August of 1986 and according to the gate of the house, the sculpture is named Untitled 1986. The sculptor of the masterpiece is John Buckley, a friend of the homeowner, Bill Heine, a local radio presenter. It is a present day conceptual piece of art protesting the Nuclear Age. You won’t want to miss this impressive piece of work when visiting Oxford. It’s lovely and creative as well as a passive but strong message against nuclear energy.

Photo by: Google Maps
Photo by: Google Maps

9. Science Oxford

The Science Oxford is a charitable organization located in Oxford that is dedicated to encourage the pursuit of science and enterprise with the ultimate goal of making connections between science, enterprise and society. The organization is broken up into different activities: Science Oxford remains its master brand name, Science Oxford Live features the discovery zone and focuses on science programs for families, Science Oxford Next hosts shows and workshops in schools in an attempt to connect young people with the excitement of science and enterprise, Science Oxford Networks connects businesses with schools and the public,  and Science Oxford Online is their website demonstrating how science works into every day life. Both educational and fascinating, Science Oxford is definitely worth a visit for the entire family.

Photo by: Science Oxford
Photo by: Science Oxford

10. St. Peter-in-the-East

Located on Queen Lane, north of High Street in Oxford, St. Peter-in-the-East is a 12th century church that forms part of St. Edmund Hall. The core of the church was built between 1130 and 1160, with the North Aisle being added in the 13th century, the tower and extension to the nave in the 14th century and the Vestry and small chapel to St. Thomas were added in the 16th century. The crypt of St. Peter constructed in the 12th century is divided into two rows of four columns linked by rounded arches which facilitated the roof to be split into fifteen separate groin vaults. The graveyard of St. Peter-in-the-East contains some notable people such as the tomb of Thomas Hearne and aeronaut James Sadler. It is a beautiful piece of English history and fascinating to explore.

By Jacob Lundberg - Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5750003
By Jacob LundbergOwn work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5750003

10 Things to See and Do in Sarajevo

Sarajevo, a place where east meets west and where centuries of Ottoman influence collide with Austro-Hungarian rule. It is one of the most unique cities in the world. The shadow of the Bosnian war and the resulting three year siege of the city itself, still peeks around the edges. But students of history, those who are fascinated watching the interplay of cultures and even anyone who loves great food and coffee, should add the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina to their must-see list. Here’s 10 fantastic reasons to visit Sarajevo!

10. Hit the Hookah

Sarajevo is often billed as a place where East meets West, and there’s little that feels more deliciously exotic to the Western visitor than a night at a hookah café. Due to Sarajevo’s history as part of the Ottoman Empire and close relations with current eastern countries, there are plenty of places where shisha is smoked. Along with coffee shops, shisha cafes are the most popular spots to gather and socialize. The air in many of the city’s small squares fills with chatter and the sweet smell of flavored smoke, and even those who prefer not to partake in the hookah enjoy the atmosphere. There’s not many better ways to capture the spirit of the city – just be sure not to relax too much, or lazy limbs might drift into the exposed coals of the hookah and that’s never going to be pleasant.

Ajan Alen / Shutterstock.com
Ajan Alen / Shutterstock.com

9. Experience the History

Other countries have managed to turn their Olympic venues into functioning stadiums or money-making tourist attractions, but other countries didn’t see a war break out less than ten years after hosting the games. Sarajevo showed her beauty to the world during the 1984 Winter Olympics, but by 1992 the city was under siege. Hotels that housed attendees were being used as bases for artillery strikes and quickly there were much bigger problems to worry about. The majority of the venues stand abandoned today, a reminder of both the highs and lows of Sarajevo’s recent past. Skenderija, where the opening ceremonies were held, is now a shopping center, but more resembles a monument to socialist architecture. More haunting is the bobsled track on nearby Mount Trebević, where the graffitied walls run down to a bombed-out spectator area or the ski jumps on Mount Igman where a derelict medal podium stands below the blocked-off ramps.

Skenderija

8. Spectacular Views

Sarajevo is situated in a bowl ringed by steep mountains, so venturing out of the central core can be a trying experience. Save those calf muscles for other expeditions and take a taxi up to Bijela Tabija, the White Fortress. Rundown even before the war, the citadel’s graffiti-tagged walls are undergoing a slow restoration process, but that doesn’t change the view below. From beside those crumbling walls visitors gaze down not only on the red roofs of Sarajevo but the deep green hills beyond, as well as the more sobering sight of a relatively new and expansive cemetery. Head down the hill on a search for Jajce Baracks, which offers up another impressive view, this time of the National and University Library of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a grand edifice that served as the City Hall during the city’s days under the Austro-Hungarian empire.

Bijela Tabija

7. Go Underground

Lying on the outskirts of Sarajevo, alongside the airport, this museum can be difficult to reach but is certainly worth the effort. During the Siege of Sarajevo from 1992-1996, the Bosnian Army built this short tunnel to allow supplies to be moved from the city to Bosnian-controlled areas on the other side of the airport. While the 20-meter length of tunnel visitors can walk is not a star attraction, the museum provides a good introduction into the city’s experience during the Bosnian War. A short film outlines the construction of the tunnel, while photographs and military equipment in the adjacent house provide a larger picture of the war years.

Photo by: By Baumi
Photo by: By Baumi via Wikimedia Commons

6. Indulge in the Cuisine

Visit other parts of the Balkans and soon a theme becomes apparent – restaurants, cafes, and sidewalk stalls offering “Sarajevo-style” cuisine. Two of the city’s dishes are often emulated by those inside the region and recreated by those outside: Burek and ćevapi. The latter dish, most often referred to by its diminutive ćevapčići, consists of skinless sausages, usually made with beef or lamb in Sarajevo and with pork in other areas. While a knife and fork will accompany the dish, make like the locals and tear off a piece of the accompanying flatbread and wrap it around the sausage. If not specified, request kajmak, a soured cream cheese. Then try Burek, a thin pastry wrapped around meat, cheese or vegetables which can also be found throughout the region, but the rolled Bosnian variety is often considered superior. Again, make like the locals and order runny yogurt, which is sipped rather than spooned.

Fotokon / Shutterstock.com
Fotokon / Shutterstock.com

5. Visit Religious Sites

Sarajevo formerly had a reputation for being Europe’s “Jerusalem,” a place where many major religions co-existed. After the end of the Bosnian war, the population of the city proper is largely Muslim, but the landscape continues to reflect that religious diversity. In the middle of the old city lies Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque, an Ottoman structure built in the 16th century. The courtyard has a bubbling fountain, but is a peaceful place to escape the crowds and admire the architecture. Just down the road, where the buildings begin to reflect Austro-Hungarian rulers, is the Sarajevo Cathedral, inspired by Notre Dame. Walk through the park across the way and there’s the Cathedral Church of the Nativity of the Theotokos, the largest Serbian Orthodox church in Bosnia. It’s a five minute walk from there to the only remaining synagogue in the city, Sarajevo Synagogue, on the opposite side of the Miljacka River.

Fotokon / Shutterstock.com
Fotokon / Shutterstock.com

4. Visit a World War I Site

It’s not an exaggeration to say that the events of June 28, 1914 forever altered the course of history. Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, Austria declared war on Serbia, Serbia’s allies declared war on Austria, Germany jumped in and World War I kicked off. The infamous event happened on a corner in Sarajevo, when the car carrying the Archduke and his wife stalled near the Latin Bridge. Gavrilo Princip, a member of a local revolutionary movement, fatally shot both passengers. Back in the days of Yugoslavia, Princip was celebrated as a hero who helped bring down the Austro-Hungarian empire, and there used to be a concrete slab with a pair of footprints marking the site. Instead, visitors can gaze at a photo erected in front of the nearby Sarajevo Museum, which houses a permanent exhibition outlining what life was like in the city from 1878 to 1918.

paul prescott / Shutterstock.com
paul prescott / Shutterstock.com

3. Take a Hike

Sarajevo is plenty enchanting on its own, but the beauty of Bosnia most often lies outside its cities. The majority of this mountainous country is densely forested and bisected by rivers so blue it’s almost unbelievable. Fortunately for visitors to Sarajevo, the Skakavac Waterfall is only 12 kilometers outside the city and offers the perfect chance to enjoy all this glorious nature without venturing too far away. This “Grasshopper Waterfall” is a pleasant two hour hike from the village of Nahorevo, just north of the city center. The “grasshopper” name becomes evident on sight, as the water skips and jumps from one of the cliff’s crevice to another as it falls 320 feet down. There’s not a lot of water gushing from the seven springs at the top and flowing over the edge, but these falls have a captivating beauty nonetheless.

Photo by: Smooth_O via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: Smooth_O via Wikimedia Commons

2. Relax and Enjoy Bosnian Coffee

Starbucks hasn’t made its way to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and one afternoon spent at one of its coffeehouses makes it easy to see why not. There’s no venti sized vanilla soy lattes being carted around Sarajevo. Instead, coffee is meant a break from the day, a chance to catch up with friends and relax. Here it’s served Turkish style, in a small copper pot accompanied by a tiny cup inside another copper holder. To drink, scoop a bit of the cream that gathers on the top into the cup, then pour in the liquid. Those with a love for sugar should try the traditional method of sweetening the brew: place one of the cubes under the tongue or between the teeth, then sip the coffee. Locals can spin these small pots out for hours, so find a shady café in the old town, relax and enjoy the people-watching.

Bosnian Coffee

1. Visit Baščaršija, Sarajevo’s Old Bazaar

Baščaršija roughly means “main market,” and is the term used to refer to Sarajevo’s old town. Constructed by the Ottomans in the 15th century, the bazaar made Sarajevo into one of the main centers of trade in the Balkans and it’s still the place to buy Bosnian treasures – whether that’s a coffee serving set hand-crafted out of copper or the kit of the national soccer team. Speaking of copper, there’s an entire lane, called Kazandžilu or Coppersmith Street, dedicated to the craft, where workers hammer and engrave their goods in dozens of tiny shops. The street is located near Sebilj, a public fountain that’s another important landmark and local meeting spot. Memorize its location – the streets of the old bazaar wander and weave, so it’s easy to get disoriented. Then again, there are so many inviting cafes and intriguing shops that getting lost matters not at all.

Michael Paschos / Shutterstock.com
Michael Paschos / Shutterstock.com

6 Outstanding Counties in Ireland

Ireland is nothing short of fulfilling with striking landscapes and visions of natural allure. The Atlantic brings welcome, warm geothermal gusts and the rare geological wealth is astounding. The dramatic diversity of landscapes, from cities to mountains, is mesmerizing and a boon for tourism. Contrasts throughout counties are esteemed, from rugged coastlines fringing island clusters to ancient boglands alongside lily-covered meadows. Sacred associations, fiery history, and some of the most unique people in the world merge together creating a destination rich with fascinating, friendly culture perfect for the curious and adventurous traveler.

6. County Antrim

Perhaps one of the best-known Irish counties, County Antrim is Ireland’s capital and a gem of a place. Belfast is here, strongly shaped by politics and history, and home to some of the most witty and interesting people in Ireland. The treasures are never-ending: sports, dance, culture, arts, attractions, shopping, and historical landmarks play key roles in the city’s busy tourism sector. Belfast’s most famous pub, The Crown Liquor Saloon, is an old world setting and one of the most impressive pubs in the world. Victorian architecture meets vibrant tiles, hand carved oak screens, painted and stained glass, and private booths alongside the breathtaking bar. Classical Renaissance style City Hall and The Linen Hall Library packed with work from important Irish authors are also must-sees. Traveling out of Belfast, the world-famous Causeway Coastal Route and Giant’s Causeway are incredible natural wonders surrounded by castles, historic bridges, and postcard-perfect vistas.

County Antrim

5. County Clare

On the west side of Ireland is County Clare, filled with dreamy seascapes, cliffs, preserved landscapes, caves, and lakes. The 700-foot high Cliffs of Moher facing the wild waters of the Atlantic are part of The Burren, an ancient karst landscape spanning more than 500 square miles, appearing as an otherworldly sight the county’s northwest. The Cliffs of Moher are majestic, and run along Clare’s west coast for more than 10 kilometers with sandstone and shale ledges creating homes for myriad bird species and are a point where views of Connemara and the Mountains of Kerry come into play. Folk Park and Bunratty Castle are authentic attractions from the Middle Ages attracting tourists from around the world. Discovered in the 1940s, tours of Alwee Caves showcase underground waterfalls, deep caverns, stalactite and stalagmite formations. The caves even house the remains of now-extinct 1000-year-old brown bears.

County Clare

4. County Cork

County Cork is Ireland’s largest county and another well-known destination pertinent to tourism. Lively and unique, it is Ireland’s second biggest city filled with distinct people who bestow the city its colourful character. In 650, a monastery was built on land that was eventually developed into Cork city over time. Flourishing along the River Lee banks where the water splits into two separate channels, Cork is an island connected to the mainland by 16 bridges. Unspoiled Sheepshead Peninsula is an inspiring place for cycling and walking along the very accessible and almost 90-kilometer trail winding along roads and old tracks and spotted with cliffs, rugged hills, and beautiful coastlines. Beautiful Inchydoney Beach, Fota Wildlife Park, the Healy Pass scenic drive, and Fort Camden are part of Cork’s attractive landscape and historic landmarks, and cultural treasures. Blarney Castle and Gardens, nearby Kinsale (the gourmet capital of Cork), are more esteemed county attractions.

County Cork

3. County Donegal

County Donegal is laden with nature’s bounty, evident across white sand beaches, pristine water, tranquil boglands, and the nature reserve of Glenveagh National Park where woodlands, lakes, and mountain scenery paint the landscape beautiful. Glenveagh Castle is at the heart of it all, surrounded by natural attractions and lovely in its Victorian architectural style. Climbing, surfing, diving, and back country walks are ideal activities for Donegal’s rugged and rough terrain.  Get into the thick of authentic language in the Irish-speaking district of Donegal Gaeltacht; walk lengthy dune systems overlooking the Atlantic; or take a spectacular drive to Horn Head Loop northwest off Donegal’s main road. It’s an almost cliff-hanging adventure following a short but a magnificent route with twists and turns and sweeping views of the Atlantic below. If that’s too nerve-wracking opt for peaceful walks at Lough Eske or meet in the middle and hike the Glenevin Waterfall trail.

Maria J / Shutterstock.com
Maria J / Shutterstock.com

2. County Galway

Managed and controlled by just 14 families throughout Medieval times, County Galway became known as the City of Tribes. It flourished in its advantageous position at the concourse of Galway Bay alongside the River Corrib. Today, Galway is a university city, and a flourishing one at that. It provides visitors with vibrant nightlife in a hopping pub scene and it feels as though music is at every corner’s turn, especially in the summer festival season. Escaping the city for some fresher air is as easy as heading north to the wild beauty of Connemara at the county’s western tip where you’ll be sure to hear plenty of Gaelic. Another spot filled with Gaelic speakers is the Aran Islands with Inis Moir being the biggest of the group of three. County Galway also has an incredible vibrant art scene, with scores of fascinating galleries, both conventional and unconventional.

Vincent MacNamara / Shutterstock.com
Vincent MacNamara / Shutterstock.com

1. County Kerry

In Ireland’s southwest is County Kerry, flanked by the River Shannon on the north, facing the Atlantic Ocean and ideal with a temperate climate that allows swimming all year. Mountains prevail here–Kerry is the most mountainous of any Irish county–adding plenty of depth to surrounding scenery and opening up a host of outdoor possibilities. Another great feature of County Kerry is the coast, and all the islands lying off of it. The Skellig Mountain range is just one of two World Heritage Sites celebrated for the cliff-side medieval monastery that appears to be taking a tumble over but has remained static for centuries. Drive the edges of Iveragh Passage and enjoy one of Kerry’s best scenic routes passing mountains, rugged coastline, and frothy ocean waves or take in all Killarney National Park offers throughout thickly wooded forests, landmarks, and moorland cut with plenty of trails for easy to moderate journeys.

County Kerry

10 Things to See and Do in Kent County, England

Kent is a home county bordering Greater London to the northwest, Surrey to the west and East Sussex to the southwest. It has been home to Canterbury Cathedral since the 6th century. It is known as “The Garden of England” due to its abundant fruit and hop gardens. Kent has something to offer everyone whether a romantic getaway is on your mind or a fun family outing. With its age old heritage sites, modern art galleries, luxurious spas and great hiking trails, Kent is the perfect holiday destination. With its close proximity to London, you will never have a boring moment while visiting this picturesque English county.

10. Tonbridge Swimming Pool

The Tonbridge Swimming Pool is not just your average swimming pool. It offers an indoor swimming pool joined to an outdoor swimming pool by a swim-through channel. The original outdoor pool, built in 1910, is a four lane, 20 metre heated pool with a man-made beach and sunbathing terrace. You will also enjoy a wonderful cafe and the “Lifestyles Health Suite” which features a jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, aromatherapy room, sunbeds and a rest lounge. The 25 metre indoor fitness pool is designed to accommodate all your family’s fitness needs while providing a clean and safe environment. They offer many fitness programs such as aqua aerobics and swim fit. They even offer fun sessions for parents and toddlers to develop water confidence. What more could you ask for in a family outing destination?

Photo by: Kent Garden of England, Visit Kent
Photo by: Kent Garden of England, Visit Kent

9. St. Augustine’s Abbey

Founded shortly after 597 AD, St. Augustine’s Abbey was a benedictine monastery until its dissolution in 1538 marking the rebirth of Christianity in southern England. Until 1848, it was dismantled and since then the site has been used for education and the ruins of the abbey have been preserved for their historical value. It was originally created as a burial place for Anglo-Saxon kings and is now part of the Canterbury World Heritage Site along with the cathedral and St. Martin’s Church. Also located at the abbey is a museum and you can experience a free audio tour. The museum showcases artifacts and stone carvings originally found at the abbey during excavations. The artifacts range from skeletal remains to costumes worn by actors playing the king and queen in celebration of St. Augustine’s arrival.

via Wikimedia Commons
via Wikimedia Commons

8. The Hop Farm Country Park

A 400-acre (1.6 km2) country park in Beltring near East Peckham in Kent, the  450 year old Hop Farm Country Park has the largest collection of oast (a kiln for drying hops) houses in the world. Some of the spectacular attractions you can visit on the farm include: Yesterday’s World – a period replica village featuring artifacts from the Victorian era to the 1970s, Hop Story Museum – the museum features exhibits and a film about growing and harvesting hops, The Magic Castle, Children’s Driving School – a track for small cars and trucks for children to drive, Giant Jumping Pillows, Hoppers Animal World – petting farm and falconry centre, Inflatable Boats and Slides, 4D Cinema, Outdoor Adventure Play, Indoor Soft Play, Shops and Children’s Rides. Many events are also hosted in the park, so there is always plenty to see and do for all ages at this family-oriented attraction.

Photo by: Kent Garden of England, Visit Kent
Photo by: Kent Garden of England, Visit Kent

7. Romney Marsh

Covering an area of about 100 square miles (260 km2), the Romney Marsh is a flat, low-lying wetland area stretching from Rye to Hythe with parts of it even reaching below sea level. The area is well known for its diverse wildlife, natural beauty, extensive coastline and fascinating history. There is plenty to see and do here with its sandy beaches, medieval churches, nature reserves and breathtaking countryside. Contained within the marsh are the historic towns of Romney and Lydd, the Hythe and Dymchurch Railway and the Royal Military Canal. You can enjoy the pristine beach before heading out for a fantastic meal at one of the many restaurants, then just take in some of the natural beauty all around you while relaxing for the day or go and explore one of the magnificent medieval churches. Whatever your preference, there is something new and incredible for you to discover at every turn.

 Photo By: Brian Fuller
Photo By: Brian Fuller

6. Canterbury Roman Museum

Located in Canterbury, Kent, the Canterbury Roman Museum opened in 1961 houses Roman pavement, a scheduled monument and is in the remains of a Roman courtyard house. You will find many artifacts on display here from Roman Canterbury which includes the Roman silver hoard known as the Canterbury Treasure along with reconstructions of the town. You can walk through the marketplace, examine the recreations of Roman rooms and learn about the Canterbury Treasure. You will also be able to handle, sort and classify real Roman pottery fragments and other items relating to the times. Some of the museum’s premier features include their mosaic tile floors and hypocaust (underfloor heating system) which have been preserved, rare tools, building materials of the times, painted plaster fragments and figurines of gods. You and your family will feel like you stepped back in time in the interactive museum.

 Photo By: Jononmac46
Photo By: Jononmac46

5. Beaney House of Art and Knowledge

Located on High Street in Canterbury, the Beaney House of Art and Knowledge is the main museum, library and art gallery in Kent along with a cafe. This state-of-the-art facility was upgraded in 2012 and is a hub of activities and programs. After exploring the museum exhibits why not venture into the art galleries and take in the many permanent exhibits featuring Ancient Egyptian and Greek artifacts, objects from all over the world including Kent, birds, butterflies, stained glass, paintings and drawings.  In their Cabinet of Curiosities you will find rare and exotic animals and objects collected by amateur collectors from the late eighteenth century on through the ages. The library, the first publicly funded library in Great Britain, is now one of a large network of public libraries managed by Kent County Council and is chock full of interesting resources and more  collections in conjunction with the art gallery.

Photo By: Geni

4. White Cliffs of Dover

Forming part of the English coastline facing the Strait of Dover and France, the White Cliffs of Dover are cliffs which are part of the North Downs Formation. The cliff face reaches up to 350 feet (110m) and its white colour comes from its composition of chalk which is accentuated by the black streaks of black flint within it making a striking spectacle you won’t want to miss. The cliffs are at the one end of Kent Down declared an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. From atop the magnificent cliffs, you have a breathtaking panoramic view of the English Channel toward the French coast. If you walk the coastal path toward South Foreland Lighthouse you will see the chalk grasslands that are home to unique species of plants and insects like the pyramidal orchid and chalkhill blue butterfly. It’s a spectacular adventure and one you won’t experience anywhere else in the world.

White Cliffs of Dover

3. Canterbury Cathedral

Forming part of a World Heritage Site, the Canterbury Cathedral is the oldest and most famous Christian structure in England. It is the cathedral of the Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the Church of England. Founded in 597 and completely rebuilt from 1070 to 1077, the building has undergone many renovations and extensions over the centuries with the Norman nave and transepts being demolished in the fourteenth century to make way for the present structures. Inside the cathedral, you will be awed by the beauty of the 12th century choir, the colourfully magnificent stained glass windows, the Tomb of The Black Prince, Trinity Chapel, the Shrine of Thomas Becket featuring his crown, the incredible ornate nave and the cloister and other monastic buildings around the church. The beauty of the architecture along with the spiritual air of the cathedral will leave you feeling renewed and a peace when you visit.

Canterbury Cathedral

2. Howletts Wild Animal Park

Originally set up as a private zoo in 1957 near Canterbury, Howlette Wild Animal Park was opened to the public in 1975. The collection of animals here are referred to as unorthodox because of the close relationship between the animals and the zoo staff and their breeding of rare and endangered species. This 90 acre (36 ha) park houses over 400 animals of more than 50 species. Amongst the animal collection is Howletts’ Western Lowland Gorillas known for being some of the largest family groups in the world and the largest breeding groups of Lion-Tailed Macaques in the world. You will also see Sumatran tigers and elephants and get to watch the elephants play in their sandy beach. Then you can enhance your visit by experiencing Keeper Day or Animal Encounters,  where you get up close and personal with the animals. There is tons to do here for all ages.

 Photo By: Michael Haslam
Photo By: Michael Haslam

1. Leeds Castle

Opened in 1119, the Leeds Castle is located 5 miles (8 km) southeast of Maidstone in Kent. It was the favourite residence for King Edward I and then served as residence to Catherine of Aragon, King Henry VIII’s first wife. The castle sits on 500 acres of land and because of its constant upkeep over the past 900 years, its condition is amongst the best of Europe’s medieval era landmarks. The tapestries, ceramics and paintings in the castle are very elegant adding to the beauty and ambiance. On the castle grounds, you will find an aviary, grotto, golf course and hedge maze constructed of over 2,400 yew trees. The only viable entrance to the grotto is through the maze providing an incentive for curious visitors. You will be awe-struck by the majestic beauty as soon as you see this impressive castle rising up from the moat.

Leeds Castle