Albi a beautiful town in southern France

Albi is small and relatively off-the-touristy radar town on the Tarn River in southern France, conveniently located about an hour northeast from Toulouse.

Despite its size, Albi is incredibly rich in history and charm. For me is without a doubt one of my favorite small town in France.

Albi is covered in red bricks, what gives this town a charming and distinctive aspect. The best way to visit Albi is by wandering around the historic center. Through the small cobblestone streets and alleyways near the river.

Albi Cathedral

The Cathedral is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. This place will take your breath-way, it’s imposingly tall and has a distinctive look for the use of brick to construct its exterior. I personally, never came across a construction of this size made of bricks.

This incredibly beautiful Gothic Cathedral is located in the middle of the lovely charming plaza filled with cafes, boulangeries, and other stores.

I found the interior as impressive as the exterior.

Maison du Vieil Alby

The Maison du Vieil Alby is a brick-half-timbered house covered in red-bricks. This house is one of the oldest-surviving buildings in Albi.

 Collégiale Saint-Salvi

A Catholic church with a small cozy cloister, perfect stop, to have a snack or to relax.

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Palais de la Berbie

The Palais de la Berbie was a former Bishop’s Palace that serves today as an art museum dedicated to the artwork of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

The gardens behind it, are truly fantastic and the view of the Tarn River spectacular.

Old medieval bridge.

The special thing about the Albi bridge is that it’s also constructed with the same red brick from which all the buildings in the old town were made.

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From the bridge, you get a great view over the rest of Albi and the city of Madeleine which is located on the other side of the bridge. The river itself is also quite pretty.

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From the other side of town, you have excellent views of the cathedral and the the Pont Vieux along the Tarn River

Marché Couvert

It’s a small indoor marketplace, unfortunately with no vegan options.

where to stay and how to get there

Albi is a great place to visit but is really small. So its better to base yourself in the nearby big city of Toulouse and do Albi as a day trip. Toulouse as plenty of accommodation choices and Albi doesn’t.

Toulouse has plenty of hostels, hotels as well as a range of AirB&Bs to choose from.

Blabla car works really well in France and is a great way to meet local people.

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photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

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Toulouse, La Ville Rose

Toulouse is a charming French town that surprises with its enchanting atmosphere, and location between the Garonne River and the mighty Canal du Midi, plus it’s still a bit off the radar to most people.

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The ochre rooftops and coral-pink brick facades gave this sunny town the nickname ‘La Ville Rose’ (the pink city). I found Toulouse quite romantic, perfect for a couple.

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Toulouse is an easy stop-off in the heart of the south west of France. Has plenty to do and see from ancient palaces to great food markets. Toulouse has two Unesco heritage sites, the Canal du Midi and the Basilica of St. Sernin, the biggest Romanesque building in Europe.

Toulouse is a “big small city“, where everything you may want to visit is quite close, plus the public transports are amazing, making it really easy to get around.

Basilique Saint-Sernin

As I mention before this Basilique is a Unesco heritage site, and it’s considered one of the largest remaining Romanesque buildings in Europe.  I found the bell-tower especially impressive, standing 64 meters above the ground.

The city is quite clean and many streets in the center are limited to pedestrians. Bikes are also everywhere. The Old Town not only is a concentration of monuments and old buildings but is also the place where the normal everyday life takes place.

The Capitole

It’s the majestic square in the heart of Toulouse, bordered by grand buildings made from Toulouse’s hallmark rose-red bricks.

The building itself is accessible to the public, and the entry is free.. Going inside is definitely worth it.

Musée des Augustins

Used to be a convent, nowadays is a fine art museum which houses some of the works from the French school between the 15th and 18th centuries. The medieval cloister and garden are especially magical, surrounded by salons filled with evocative statues and sculptures.

Cathédrale saint-étienne

Also know as Toulouse Cathedral, it’s a Roman Catholic church built between the 13th and 17th centuries. The cathedral is a combination of northern and southern Gothic styles.

Canal du Midi

A picturesque canal whose waters flow throughout the southwest of France until exiting into the Mediterranean Sea, perfect for a stroll along the River Garonne during a sunny day.

Pont Neuf

The Pont-Neuf is the oldest and also the main bridge in town, a great place to walk along the Garonne river. The bridge was constructed in the 1500s.

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Jardin Japonais

Located in the north of the city near the Compans Caffarelli. On the day I visited the garden, there was virtually no one there, it’s a gorgeous place, that definitely deserves a visit.

Chapelle des Carmélites

It’s a stunning chapel that will absolutely take your breath away. Inside this chapel is covered in fresco painting, from the wall to the ceiling. The chapel is covered with religious depiction of the Heavens, definitely worth a peak.

Market of Saint Aubin

The Market happens every Sunday morning and is run by local farmers. It’s a great place to buy organics products, vegan street food, find local artists and books. Although Toulouse has several markets this one was my favorite

The Marché Victor Hugo, is quite big and well known for its gourmet stalls and restaurants but more is more suitable to non-vegans.

How to get there

Toulouse has its own airport, 20 minutes away from the city center. It also has great connections from the airport to the city.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

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Bacharach a charming town of the Rhine Valley

Bacharach

Along the Rhine, there are plenty of charming towns that will make you step back in time. Bacharach is undoubtedly for me, one of the prettiest of the Rhine villages.

The last time I visited Bacharach was in February, and I was lucky enough to have a snow day.  This small German medieval town is definitely a must during any season, but you can’t deny that the snow adds a little something else.

Wondering through Bacharach by itself is already an amazing experience. Bacharach is a charming small town behind a 14th-century wall, with narrow cobblestone streets, and historic buildings with half-timbered mansions involved by imposing vineyards.

The Stahleck Castle marks it’s presence up from the hill, with a breathtaking view of the Rhine river.

There are several paths leading up to the castle and down to town. It can be a bit steep and slippery in places with the snow and the ice, but the views are worthy. The courtyard of the castle overlooks the Rhine and the valley of Lorelei.

The tiny Bacharach is easily reachable by train. The train journey stretches along the Rhine river, and the journey is simply amazing dotted with castles, vines and, small historical towns.

The Rhine Gorge is like something out of a fairytale with castles dotted as far as the eye can see, medieval towns, and great wine.

Personally, I recommend Bacharach as a day out. Because there will be more and better options for accommodation and food elsewhere, plus the train journey is easy, comfortable and the views a delight.

If you do decide to overnight, there are plenty of options including the castle. Yes! it’s true, they transformed the 12th century fortified castle into a hostel.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

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Cologne travel

Cologne is mostly known for its beautiful Gothic cathedral and crazy carnival, and I was lucky enough to experience both. Cologne is also a major cultural center.

After DĂŒsseldorf I took the train down to Cologne, the largest city of the German Bundesland of North Rhine-Westphalia, during carnival time (Karneval).

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Carnival is a big deal in Germany, and the city of Cologne was unrecognizable when I arrived. There was a festive spirit in the air, lots of alcohol, music, fun, noise, crowds and thousands of people dressed up. Cologne’s Carnival is the biggest in Germany and has a long and rich history which I did not know much about, until then.

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The City of Cologne 

Cologne is a fairly walkable city, but if you are more of a bus person, a single ticket costs €2.80 a day pass is €8.60. Cologne also has a dense network of bike routes along the Rhine.

The river runs through the heart of old town so you can also take a cruise along the river.

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Altstadt (The Old Town)

Cologne doesn’t really impress with its old town since only a tiny area of historic streets survived the World War II. The reman streets are colorful and great for a wander around.

The Köln’s Dom

The world-famous Gothic cathedral, is located right next to the train station, in the center of Köln, is the fourth-tallest in the world, and luckily survived the war. The construction and details are quite impressive, and I do recommend going in the morning before everyone else arrives. Visiting the cathedral is free.

The South Tower, is 157 meters high, with 533 steps, (4€) if the weather is good you have a great panoramic view all the way over and around Cologne and the Rhine river.

The Belgian Quarter

Located outside old town, is kind of a pot mixing bits and pieces of France, Belgium and Germany. Here all the street are named after cities in Belgium, like  BrĂŒsseler Platz, a beautiful scare surrounding a church.

There is a huge variety of local and international boutique shops, ethnic markets, restaurants, and local cafes to discover.

Ehrenfeld

It’s another area outside old town that deserves to be explored. A few years ago some well-renowned covered Ehrenfeld with stunning murals.

Art Museums & Street Art

Cologne has a number of excellent museums, like The Ludwig Museum with an impressive Pop Art collection with work from the well known Warhol and Lichtenstein, and great street art to be found around the city.  For instance, in Ehrenfeld, or Eigelstein, the key is to leave old town and walk around back streets, side streets and all the roads in between the main ones.

Some other museums are quite unusual, such as the German Olympic Museum the Chocolate Museum or the perfume museum.

If you do like museums, its best to buy the MuseumsCard (€18)

Hahnen Gate

This is one of twelve gates of the medieval city wall located in Rudolfplatz.

Skulpturen Park Köln (sculpture park) 

It is a relaxing and interesting place that combines art and nature. Artists have been commissioned, to create work that interacts creatively with the surrounded nature. The entry is free, and the park combines permanent and temporary exhibition.

Botanical Garden

Located in the north of the city, next to the zoo. It’s a great place to visit during summer and spring. The park is very well maintained, and the entrance is free.

Flea Markets

Cologne’s streets are home to an exceptionally large number of flea markets,  there you may find amazing and affordable vintage items. Even if you don’t want to buy something, it still is a nice place with a special atmosphere, to walk through looking at the antiques. If you are there to buy bargaining is a must, most of the markets also have food and beverage stalls.

The panorama tower, Köln Triangle

this impressive high-rise KölnTriangle offers a good 360-degree panorama view of Cologne, to go up they charge a €3 fee.

Love Lock Bridge

The Hohenzollern Bridge or Love Lock Bridge is completely covered with tens of thousands of padlocks, each one engraved with names, dates or something romantic.
From Old Town, you can cross one of the numerous bridges that separate the two parts of the city. From this side, there’s a great view of old town and the Cathedral.

If you have time:

Take a train and pop into some of the many picturesque towns outside of Cologne along the Rhine.

  •  Drachenfels has a spectacular castle, called the Dranchenburg Castle. 1 1/2 hours by train.
  •  Aachen is a university-town great for history-lovers, and it is close to Belgium. 1 hour by train.
  • Koblenz, is a town full of ancient history, 1.5 hour by train.
  • Mainz, its a nice little university town with a medieval center and an impressive cathedral. 1.5 hours by train.
  • Marburg is picturesque medieval hill town with narrow cobbled streets and half-timbered houses. 2.5 hours by train.

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Mainz the colourful city at the Rhine River

Mainz stretches along the Rhine at its confluence with the River Main. It’s a small university city that is more charming, beautiful and vibrant that the famous neighbors of Cologne and Frankfurt. 

Mainz is part of one of the most scenic train rides in all of Germany, to say the least. So travel by train is mandatory. You really can’t miss it, I assure that the ride will be one of the highlights of your trip to Germany.

The train journey is along the banks of the river, its a relaxing journey that dazzles with its ruins of old fortresses, beautiful castles, small medieval towns, and countless vines. Most of the towns in this line are worth a visit if you have the time.

A good way to visit them is to stay in Mainz and do a return day journey to visit some of the most historic towns along the river.

Mainz

Mainz has a charming and inviting Old Town, easily explored by foot. The historic streets impress mostly with it’s fantastic architecture, cobbled streets, beautiful half-timbered houses, small boutiques, appealing open squares, restaurants, wine bars, rustic taverns and interesting museums and churches.

The atmospheric square, where the weekly farmers market takes place is the place where the impressive Roman Catholic church from the 10th century is located. The beautiful Mainz Cathedral – Dom is perfectly situated in the heart of the city, facing the Gutenberg Museum.

This museum is one of the oldest printing museums in the world and was founded over 500 years ago. The exhibition is a journey through the writing and printing history.

Unlike the Dom, the Gutenberg museum is not free. The ticket is 5€ for adults.

From the museum when walking through the pedestrian street  “Augustinerstraße” (Augustinerstrasse), you can still see some details of the magnificent cathedral. This street leads to a Roman theatre.

The St. Stephen’s Church It’s another church that deserves a visit, for its world-famous Chagall windows. They have that name because of the ethereal stained-glass created by the Russian-Jewish artist Marc Chagall, as a symbol of the Jewish–Christian reconciliation.

A walk on the promenade along the Rhine River banks is also great.

Useful tips

  • Mainz old town is a bit more than one kilometer from the train station.
  • Cycling is also an option in Mainz, you just need the install an app to use one of the many public bicycles around town.
  • Ryanair links several European airports with Frankfurt-Hahn airport, which is closer to Mainz than Frankfurt.
  • To reach the airport from the city or the city from the airport buy online a ticket from one of the low-cost bus companies. The bus is direct and takes 1.30h.
  • If you’re a fan of Carnaval you should go in February to take part in the traditional carnival festivities.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

DĂŒsseldorf a surprising city along the River Rhine

DĂŒsseldorf is one of the economic centers in Germany and is located along the River Rhine. Dusseldorf is known mostly for its nightlife,  and prominence in the fashion industry.

Because I’m not really into nightlife neither fashion this city would not be my first choice of a German town to visit.

But destiny (and cheap flights) made me end up there, and I didn’t miss the opportunity to visit 🙂 I had no expectation about DĂŒsseldorf. It had never really crossed my mind going there, so I was kind of surprised how pretty it was, and how DĂŒsseldorf’s art scene was so amazing.

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Dusseldorf is very close to the famous city of Cologne and is the capital of the German state North Rhine-Westphalia.

>> DĂŒsseldorf old city center

Dusseldorf has a small charming area that is intact in the old city center (Altstadt), the rest of the city was mostly rebuilt after the war.

Passing over the Stadtgarden you can make your way into the old city and the boardwalk that runs along the Rhine River. 

To explore the area is better by foot. Just walk randomly through the web of lanes. This district is known as “the longest bar in the world”, because the small Old Town has more than 300 pubs.

In the Old City Center, you will not miss the Marktplatz square with the Town Hall and the equestrian statue of Elector John William II. During the Carnaval and Christmas, this place is full flow.

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The Castle Tower right on the banks of the Rhine is another important stop, as it’s the only remaining piece of the old castle that used to dominate the area.

DĂŒsseldorf’s biggest church is called St. Lambertuskirsch. It’s not the Cologne cathedral but still beautiful and quite impressive, you will recognize it for its twisted tower.

>> The Japanese quarter

Dusseldorf has the third largest Japanese community in Europe, and the Japanese culture is very present around the Japanese quarter, centered around Immermannstr.

As a tourist destination, this area lacks in charm or atmosphere but you can find here Japanese shops, restaurants, tea shops, travel agencies, appliance stores, grocery stores, etc.. its kind of a little Tokyo or Japantown.

>> The Königsallee (King’s Alley)

This famous shopping street has beautiful stone walkways and a picturesque canal in the backdrop. It is literally a shoppers’ paradise, and for people like me, a place for a nice, long walk.

It’s called Kö by the locals, and it’s a great staring point to discover the city. Where the Königsallee Boulevard converges with the Hofgarten promenade, you have the sinuous Kö-Bogen; a large-scale office and retail complex. The Hofgarten promenade it’s a relaxing place to read a book, drink a coffee or do a picnic near the lake.

>>Rheinuferpromenade (promenade)

No matter which side of the Rhine you choose to walk through; the views are amazing. The Burgplaz marks the beginning of the promenade, wandering along the Rhine River from the Altstadt towards the Rhineturm, is a fantastic walkway ,watching the ship’s and tourists boats up and down the river and the surrounding architecture.

Rhine Tower (Rheinturm)

The Rheinturm is a 240.5-meter high concrete telecommunications tower,  in the head of a modern district on the river. From the top, you have an overall look of Dusseldorf.

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The Japanese Garden is a wonderful place for meditation, despite the distance from the city center, you can easily cycle there. The Volksgarten is another great park perfect for a summer picnic. It has a small beer garden open during summer months.

Have you ever been to DĂŒsseldorf?

What did you like the most? Do you have any recommendations?

 

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

More about :

🎉 DĂŒsseldorf’s Karneval

🏙 DĂŒsseldorf Art Scene & Architecture

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DĂŒsseldorf’s Carnival

DĂŒsseldorf’s Carnival is a massive over-the-top event, It’s crazy how Germans are into it.

DĂŒsseldorf has a completely different vibe during the celebrations. There’re lights, music, costumes, ‘home-made’ floats, rides, fireworks, street food everywhere, parades, and lots and lots and lots of alcohol.

Who would guess that Carnival is such a big deal in Germany and that German people are really into it?

Sure that doesn’t have the glamour, weather, music, rhythm and the tropical vibe from  Brasil but still is a massive event.

In Germany, the dispute is between Cologne’s carnival and DĂŒsseldorf’s carnival, but best is not to ask around which one is the best one, since its a sensitive topic for some people. Apparently, they are eternal rival cities.

This may surprise you but Cologne’s Carnival is among the biggest in Europe, but someone said, what DĂŒsseldorf lacks in size it makes up for in alcohol consumption.

There are several variations of Carnival throughout Germany. But the celebrations kick-off on November 11th at 11:11 am everywhere. But the crazy parties don’t really begin until February, also referred to as the “crazy days”

Dusseldorf is one of the fortresses of the Rhineland Carnival and drinking from early morning is part of the fun, during the week-long carnival, bars and pubs know no closing time.

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What to Expect

The dates of the carnival vary from year to year but always starts on a Thursday before Ash Wednesday. This day is called Altweiberfastnacht (Women’s Carnival Day). And is when the ladies take over the City Hall and cut off men’s ties.  Women in witch costumes “kidnap” the mayor and take control over the city. Followed by a street carnival in the Altstadt (Old Town)

If you think this is too crazy I’m afraid I need to say that this is just the beginning 🙂 From this point onward, it steadily gets more crazy, crowded, and loud.

On Saturday, is the Jugendumzug (Youth Procession), at DĂŒsseldorf city center more oriented for families.

On Sunday is the “Karneval Sunday” in Konigsallee people start drinking and parting early in the morning, and locals get creative with ways to carry around their alcohol, have spectacular costumes and small ‘home-made’ floats

Rosenmontagszug or Rose Monday Parade

The parade comprises thousands of people in costumes marching around the city for hours, they include a giant decorated floats and people marching on foot through the city center and down Dusseldorf’s shopping street, Königsallee. Many of the floats from the Dusseldorf parade are political and often controversial.

It’s important to memorize the word- Helau, the local word for the Karneval greeting in Dusseldorf if you want to catch candies, chocolates, crips and other trinkets that they threw at the crowds, while you shout “Helau” and wave your hands.

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Have you been to a carnival parade in Germany?  What were your first impressions?

Do you have tips about Dusseldorf’s Carnival? Share in the comments below.

Now you just need to figure out what you’re going to wear next year


 

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

More about :

â›ȘDĂŒsseldorf a surprising city along the River Rhine

🏙 DĂŒsseldorf Art Scene & Architecture

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DĂŒsseldorf Art Scene & Architecture 

DĂŒsseldorf is one of the wealthiest cities in Germany, and home to extraordinary museums, galleries, and fascinating modern architecture in the district around Lorettostrasse and in the renovated port area.
Nowadays DĂŒsseldorf is not only known for its fashion industry, trade fairs, and offices. But is also known for its vibrant arts scene.
DĂŒsseldorf has 26 museums and more than 100 galleries. Exhibitions may range from local to international, and collections are surprisingly diverse. With this range and quantities of venues quality and diversity is guaranteed.
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Here is a list of some of the best places to visit:

  • Neanderthal Museum,
  • Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen (with three venues K20, K21, and F3),
  • DĂŒsseldorf Film Museum,
  • Hetjens Museum (Deutsches Keramikmuseum),
  • Goethe Museum,
  • Stiftung Museum Kunstpalast,
  • Schmela Haus,
  • Kunsthalle DĂŒsseldorf,
  • KIT- Kunst im Tunnel,
  • the NRW – Forum DĂŒsseldorf,
  • Kunstverein fĂŒr die Rheinlande und Westfalen,
  • Akademie-Galerie – Die Neue Sammlung,
  • Julia Stoschek Collection,
  • the KAI 10 | Arthena Foundation,
  • Hetjens-Museum – Deutsches Keramikmuseum,
Architecture
The Modern District: Medienhafen

Wel, and I saved the best for last …

My favorite part of Dusseldorf is The Modern District: Medienhafen.

This district is a center for modern architecture and design. DĂŒsseldorf has kind of a double soul, on one side the Altstadt full of history, with lots of traditional buildings, on the other side is posh, modern and very business oriented. Medienhafen is a redeveloped harbor area and a must for any architecture lovers.

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Medienhafen is located south of the Altstadt, and has work from amazing architects:

  • Frank Gehry – the Neuer Zollhf;

The Neuer Zollhof is a set of three contrasting buildings designed by Frank Gehry, as part of the redevelopment of the port area. Each one of the three buildings have its own distinct design, materials, and colors.

  • Claude Vascosni – the  Grand bateau ;

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The Grand Bateau looks like a curved ship on land.

  • William Alsop – the Colorium ;

The British architect created a colorful tower with a very distinctive dynamic and playful aspect, that really captures your attention.

  • Helmut Jahn – the Hafen tower;

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It is an impressive glass building, near the Colorium.

DĂŒsseldorf is one of those places that you learn to love after a while. It may look ugly, but it’s a diverse and interesting city. If you dig a little deeper, it has lots of beautiful hidden places.

Places nearby, outside Dusseldorf:
Schloss Benrath

A Baroque Palace 10km away from the city of Dusseldorf. The architecture and the park are beautiful and worth of a visit.

Cologne

A big city located 45 minutes from Dusseldorf, with lots of touristic attractions, led by its famous gothic cathedral.

Wuppertal

Is a little town that has a (Schwebebahn) suspension train, that hangs over a river the whole route.

Schloss Burg Solingen

A charming town with a castle 1:30h away by public transports,  great for a day out.

 

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

More about :

🎉 DĂŒsseldorf’s Karneval

â›ȘDĂŒsseldorf’s old town

 

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Best places to visit in Edinburgh – Scotland (part II)

Located beyond the east end of Princes Street is the Calton Hill (UNESCO World Heritage Site), surrounded on three sides by Regent Terrace, Calton Terrace and Royal Terrace. At Calton Hill you’ll find various iconic monuments and some incredible views out over Edinburgh. Take a hike to the top of the hill, sit and relax in a quiet(ish) park-like setting.

The monuments on Calton Hill include the National Monument, which looks like Athens’ Parthenon; the obelisk-like Nelson Monument and the Dugald Stewart Monument.

The Victoria Street, is a very picturesque street, known for its unique and colourful shops.

The Arthur’s Seat was one of my favourite places, despite being a bit of a hike for my fitness level.. 🙂 It’s located about 1 mile to the east of Edinburgh Castle; and it’s the main peak of the group of hills which form most of Holyrood Park, formed by an extinct volcano. From the top you get the greatest panoramic views of Edinburgh’s stunning skyline of Victorian and Georgian architecture and the Firth of Forth (estuary) in the distance.

Was a tough hike and some of the parts are rather difficult (at least for me) depending on your aptitude, the walk to the top takes approximately one hour, but the views from the top are worth it though.

The old Calton burial Ground also known as the Old cemetery, dates back to the late 16th century, and despite not being as extraordinary has the Glasgow one, still worths a visit. Supposedly JK Rowling got a few ideas for names in the Harry Potter series here. And just because I’m already talking about graveyards, there’s another famous one, the Greyfriars Kirk, laying on the tale of Greyfriars Bobby, a dog who supposedly sat upon the grave of its deceased owner for fourteen years following its masters death. The graveyard itself is quite beautiful and offers a nice view of the city.

The Museum of Edinburgh, offers a good view over the history of the city through a collection of artefacts, you can also dress up with replica costumes and have some fun 😉 the museum also has a great courtyard.

If you are on a tight budget walk and spend time at the parks, gardens, and museums,  almost all of these are free…

I will leave here a few more pictures of other corners of the city, hope you enjoy it..

Let me know if you have been to Edinburgh, and which are your favourite places..
Looking forward to hearing from you..

🚌  read part I 🚌

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Best places to visit in Edinburgh – Scotland (part I)

While traveling across Scotland, we took a bus from Glasgow to Edinburgh. We quickly dumped our luggage in the room, and went out to explore the beautiful city with gorgeous historical and natural wonders. No matter where I am, I always feel that stroll around is the best way to properly experience a country/city, so is what I always do… is no surprise that I did around 90 miles in 4 days (by foot), my legs and feet always complain but my heart and soul just crave for it..

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Even having been walking endless miles, I still need to say that all the main attractions are quite close to each other, and despite the hills, Edinburgh is a great walking city, so walk is the best way to discover this beautiful historic city.

Edinburgh is split in two by the valley that separates the Old Town from the New Town. The Old Town of Edinburgh, dates back to Medieval times, and is where we found the oldest attractions. The Royal Mile, is undoubtedly the most touristic street and is packed with people, pubs, shops, restaurantes, and street performers; feels like theres is nothing that can’t be seen on this street. To be fair, this packed touristic places are not my cup of tea, so what I enjoyed the most here were the escapes to the many quirky streets going from there.

The St Giles Cathedral, located in this street, is covered in lovely details and has beautiful stained glass windows. Pop in to see the pretty blue ceiling, and the intricate Thistle Chapel.

At the west end of the Royal Mile is the Edinburgh Castle, a landmark visible from many parts of the city. The entry fee is £17 for adult, so if you think is too much (what I do), you can always enjoy the views from the Castle Esplanade. I didn’t go inside, has I think is not worth the price. On the other hand the Craigmillar Castle, located in the other side of Edinburg have a more acceptable fee (ÂŁ5.50) and it’s really nice.DSCF7113

The city’s best museum is for me, by far the National Museum of Scotland,  located very close to the National Galleries on The Mound. This museum is dedicated to the natural world, world cultures, art and design, science and technology, and Scottish history.  Like most museums in the UK,  it’s  free.

From here in direction to the Royal Botanic Garden you can stop at the charming village of Stockbridge. This place has a nice vibe and is away from the city center touristic buzz. The picturesque street Circus Lane, is another must.

The  Royal Botanic Garden  is a great hidden gem and a very special place; for me an absolute must-see in Edinburgh, specially if the weather is good. They are a great escape from the crowded Old Town. On a sunny day you can explore the many different features around the garden and also the glasshouses. The  Garden lies in Inverleith, a half-hour walk north of the city centre. The stroll through New Town and Stockbridge is worth the time. The gardens are free to enter, but for the Glasshouse you pay a fee.

Back at the crowded  old town the Princes Street Gardens are another free outing. The gardens are a great spot for relaxing on a sunny day; from here the views are excellent to the Castle. This garden is home to the gothic Scott Monument, which can be climbed by 200 ft above the city (£5). This area also contain some of the city’s key museums and serve as a venue for Edinburgh’s famous summer cultural festivals. The National Gallery  is located in the midst of the Princes Street Gardens and displays a lovely collection.

Princes street (named after George III’s sons) is the main shopping street in Edinburgh, so very frenetic and congested with people and buses. The National Portrait Gallery and the Royal Scottish Academy are both located just off Princes Street, so it’s very easy to pop in for a visit.

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photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha