Westminster Cathedral is located on Victoria street. The nearest tube and train station is Victoria. As you walk along Victoria Street, you discover a wide piazza among commercial and office buildings. That is the main entrance to the cathedral. You will probably think that you have been transported to Constantinople. No, you are still in London.
Built in the late 19th century (1895), the cathedral building is actually Victorian. However, its design style is Early Christian Byzantine. The nave and the mosaics reminded me of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (modern-day Constantinople).
The cavernous nave and chapels are decorated with over one hundred different types of marble from all over the world, like red granite from Sweden or lapis lazuli form Chile. The effect is truly astounding.
The mosaics are Neo-Byzantine in style. They were installed between 1912 and 1916 by members of the Arts and Crafts Movement, which stood for traditional craftsmanship and often inspired by medieval, romantic or folk styles.
Victoria St, Westminster, London SW1P 1LT
Cathedral of the Holy Family in Exile
This is a little-known cathedral, or, at any rate, I never heard of it until now. It is the cathedral of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Eparchy of the Holy Family of London.
The Ukrainian Catholic church bought this building in 1967. It was originally built in in the Italianate classic design in 1891 for the Congregational King’s Weigh House. The architect, Alfred Waterhouse, also designed the Natural History Museum. learn more about the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Exile here.
22 Binney Street (Chancery), London, W1K 5BQ
St. George’s Cathedral, Southwark
Two cathedrals grace Southwark: St. George’s, which is Catholic, and Southwark Cathedral, which is Anglican. Of the two, St. George’s is lesser known. Let’s change that.
The building was designed by the renowned Victorian architect Augustus Pugin and was officially opened in 1848. Almost a century later, in April 1941, an incendiary bomb caused a lot of damage. After rebuilding, the cathedral was reconsecrated in 1958.
St. George’s Cathedral is a stone’s throw away from the Imperial War Museum and the South Bank. It’s a short walk from Waterloo Station.
Lambeth Road, (SE1 6HR)
St. Paul’s Cathedral
St. Paul’s Cathedral is the best known of all London’s cathedrals. It’s one of the quintessential landmarks we think of when we think of London.
St. Paul’s has a very long history that goes back to the 7th century. The current building was designed by Sir Christopher Wren in the English Baroque style, after the Great Fire of London of 1666 destroyed the medieval cathedral.
This was not the only time that St. Paul’s was under attack. The suffragettes planted a bomb in 1913, but it didn’t go off. However, the German bombs during the Blitz did not miss the cathedral, which then became a symbol of resistance.
St. Paul’s is the seat of the Bishop of London and is the mother church of the Anglican Diocese of London. It’s a wonderful building. If you have time to visit just the one cathedral, do choose St. Paul’s.
St Paul’s Cathedral, St Paul’s Churchyard, London, EC4M 8AD
Southwark Cathedral is located on the south bank of the Thames in Bankside. It is the seat of the Diocese of Southwark of the Church of England, which serves South London and Surrey.
Its full name is The Cathedral and Collegiate Church of St Saviour and St Mary Overie. Its history dates back to the Doomsday Book (1086), as it mentions the existence of a minster at that location. The Normans re-founded it in 1106 as a priory under the Augustinian rule.
The many highlights of Southwark Cathedral include a Roman pavement, the stained glass, Edmund Shakespeare’s memorial stone (he was William’s brother), and the altar piece and screen. And a lovely café to sit and relax. Find visitor information here. You’ll find the cathedral behind Borough Market, at the foot of London Bridge.
St. Margaret’s Chapel Edinburgh Castle
La Capilla de Sta. Margarita en el castillo de Edimburgo
St. Margaret’s Chapel
Built on the highest point of Castle Rock, St. Margaret’s Chapel dominates Edinburgh Castle and the city below. This small unassuming Chapel, with an internal width of 3 metres and a 4.8-metre-long nave, is Edinburgh’s oldest building.
King David I (1124-1153) had the Chapel built in about 1130 and dedicated it to his mother, Queen Margaret. It is a simple rectangular stone construction, with an entrance door near the back of the nave, and a round chancel arch decorated with chevron mouldings. The arch leads to the small apsed sanctuary. The ornate arch and three of the walls are original. The walls are 61 centimetre thick.
St. Margaret’s Chapel is redolent of earlier Celtic Chapels in Scotland and Ireland. However, the style is Romanesque, as evidenced by the round-headed windows and the round arch.
This Chapel is still standing after some brutal historical events. When the Earl of Moray captured Edinburgh Castle from the English in 1314, King Robert the Bruce had it demolished to prevent it falling onto English hands again. However, St. Margaret’s Chapel was spared. Before he died, Robert the Bruce gave orders for the Chapel to be repaired.
The Chapel was virtually forgotten after the Reformation in the 16th century. It was also used to store gunpowder. Restoration work began in the 1850s. The stained-glass windows, which depict Scottish saints, were installed in the 1920s. the Chapel was rededicated in 1934. It is still used for religious services, like baptisms or weddings. The St. Margaret’s Chapel Guild ensures that there are always fresh flowers.
La capilla de Santa Margarita
La capilla de Sta. Margarita domina el paisaje desde el punto más alto del Castillo de Edimburgo. Esta pequeña capilla, de solo 3 metros de ancho interior y una nave de 4,8 metros de largo, es la construcción más antigua de la ciudad.
El rey David I (1124-1153) mandó a construir la capilla en 1130 dedicada la memoria de su madre, la reina Margarita. Es una construcción rectangular de piedra, con una entrada en la parte posterior de la nave y un arco decorado con motivos angulares. El arco separa el ábside de la nave. El arco triunfal y tres de las paredes son originales. Estas tienen un espesor de 61 centimetros.
Si bien la capilla tiene características parecias a capillas celtas de Escocia e Irlanda, su estilo es románico, como lo indican las ventanas redondeadas y el arco triunfal.
La capilla soportó varios eventos históricos violentos. Cuando el conde de Moray recapturó el Castillo de Edimburgo en poder de los ingleses en 1314, el rey Robert the Bruce lo mandó a demolir para evitar que volviera a caer en manos inglesas. Si embargo, ordenó conservar la capilla. Antes de morir, ordenó que fuera restaurada.
La capilla cayó en el abandono luego de la Reforma Protestante del siglo XVI. Incluso, se la utilizó como polvorín. Los trabajos de restauración comenzaron en la década de 1850. Los vitrales con santos escoceses son de la década de 1920. La capilla fue vuelta a consagrar en 1934. Todavía se usa para servicios relgiosos como bautismos o casamientos. La Cofradía de la Capilla de Sta. Margarita se ocupa de que simpre haya flores frescas.
Although born in exiled in Hungary in 1045, Margaret of Wessex was an English princess, sister to Edgar Ætheling, claimant to the throne of England. Her family returned to England when she was ten but had to flee after the Norman invasion of 1066.
Their ship, headed to the Continent, was blown off course and ended up in Scotland. King Malcolm put the family under his protection. He eventually fell in love with and married Margaret in 1070.
Margaret was a devoted catholic. She exerted her influence on her husband, who was not vey religious. Queen Margaret promoted the arts and education, advocated religious reform in Scotland and founded several churches. She fed the poor and nursed the sick.
Pope Innocent IV canonized Margaret in 1250 for her life of holiness and reform of the Church.
Saint Margaret is the patron saint of Scotland and her feast day is 16 November. Incidentally, my mother-in-law’s name was Margaret, and she was Scottish.
¿Quién fué Sta. Margarita?
Si bien nació en el exilio en Hungría, Margarita de Wessex era una princesa inglesa hermana de Edgar Atheling, pretendiente al trono de Inglaterra. Su familia volvió cuando ella tenía diez años, pero debieron escapar de los invasores normandos en 1066.
Su barco se dirigía al continente, pero una tormenta lo desvió a las costas escocesas. El rey Malcolm los puso bajo su protección. Con el tiempo, se enamoró y casó con Margarita en 1070.
Margarita era muy devota y su influencia suavizó el carácter y las decisiones de su marido. Promovió las artes y la educación, abogó por la reforma religiosa en Escocia y fundó varias iglesias. Hizo también muchas obras de caridad.
El papa Inoncencio IV canonizó a Margarita de Escocia en 1250 por sus obras de caridad y la reforma de la iglesia.
Sta. Margarita es la patrona de Escocia y su santo se celebra el 16 de noviembre. Mi suegra era escocesa y se llamaba justamente Margaret.
The igneous rock intrusion known as Castle Rock that looks over Edinburgh has always played a defensive role, from a fortress in Roman times to royal residence in the Middle Ages. King David I built some of the remarkable buildings in 1130 that are still standing.
The English captured and destroyed the castle a few times, but the Scots always reclaimed and rebuilt it. The castle was the scene of sieges and battles. As a royal residence, it is where Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to her son James IV of Scotland and later, James I of England. The castle withstood the Jacobite rebellions in the 18th century.
Nowadays, Edinburgh Castle serves as a military station, is home to the Scottish National War Memorial and of the Crown Jewels (the Honours of Scotland). The Stone of Destiny, also known as the Stone of Scone, where Scottish kings were crowned, has been on display since 1996, when it was returned from Westminster Abbey. I have been immensely lucky to have seen the Stone in both places.
Edinburgh Castle is part of the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
El Castillo de Edimburgo
La formación de roca ígnea conocida como Castle Rock que ese eleva sobre Edimgburgo siempre cumplió un papel defensivo, tanto como fortaleza romana o residencia real medieval. El rey David I construyó en 1130 algunos de los edificios majestuosos todavía en pie.
Las fuerzas inglesas capturaron y destruyeron el castillo varias veces pero los escoceses siempre lo recuperaron y lo arreglaron. El castillo fue escena no solo de batallas sino de asedios. Como residencia real, fue donde la reina María Estuardo dio a luz a su hijo Jacobo IV de Escocia y I de Inglaterra. Tambié soportó las rebeliones jacobitas del siglo XVIII.
Hoy en día, el Castillo de Edimburgo cumple funciones militares, alberga el Monumento Nacional de Guerra y las joyas de la Corona, u Honores de Escocia y la Piedra del Destino (Stone of Scone), donde eran coronados los monarcas escoceses. La Piedra del Destino estuvo en la Abadía de Westminster hasta 1996, cuando fue devuelta a donde pertenece. Tuve la gran suerte de verla en ambos lugares.
El Castillo de Edimburgo forma parte del grupo Old and New Towns of Edinburgh, declarado Patrimonio Histórico de la Humanidad por la UNESCO.
Jorge Luis Borges in Austin: a visit to the University of Texas at Austin campus where the celebrated Argentinean poet was a visiting professor.
Professors from the University of Austin organize a picnic on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol in Austin. The center of attention is Jorge Luis Borges, the celebrated Argentinean poet, professor, essayist and short-story writer.
Later, helped by Professor Marta Luján, also from Argentina, Borges, almost blind by then, reads with his hand the carved reliefs of the building in an intimate act of communication.
Jorge Luis Borges in Austin
Visiting professor at UT
Borges came to Austin several times. The first time was in 1961-62, when he came as a visiting professor to the University of Texas under the auspices of the Tinker Visiting Professorship in Spanish, which aims to bring Latin American writers to certain US houses of study.
That semester, he gave two courses: an overview of Argentine poetry and a seminar on Argentinean poet Leopoldo Lugones, whose work greatly influenced that of Borges’.
Borges also gave lectures on great Argentinean writers and the American poet Walt Whitman. Borges returned to Austin on other occasions to give courses and conferences, which always ended with a standing ovation
I tried to follow in Jorge Luis Borges’ footsteps in Austin, as I had done when I visited Harvard and learned that he also was a visiting professor there. First of all, I did some research online and found some interesting information, on which I based my visit.
First, I went to the Texas Capitol. I had read that Borges enjoyed picnicking in the sprawling gardens. It is not clear if he did it once or on several occasions. No big deal, it’s a lovely place to sit on a bench under the trees, among sculptures and monuments that reflect Texas history. It was inevitable to speculate under which tree Borges and his colleagues might have sat.
The University of Texas campus, where Borges taught the courses, is a 20-minute walk down Congress Avenue from the Capitol. It took me the same length of time by car because there isn’t a direct easy way to get there and I had a hard time finding a place to park. It must have been infinitely easier in the 1960’s
After I parked, I walked down Guadalupe Street, known as The Drag. Borges met with students and teachers at a bar called Nighthawk, which no longer exists. But the atmosphere must have been similar. There are many stores and bars and places to eat cheaply, ideal for students.
The campus is beautiful. It is dominated by a tower from the 1930s and part of the main building, the heart of the historic campus. Students were milling about, talking and laughing. There was a sense of optimism and the omnipotence of youth in the air.
I walked along tree-lined avenues adorned with fountains, and past the buildings of the various colleges and student residences, until I came across Batts Hall.
Batts Hall (1951) was the headquarters of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and where Borges had his office. Today it is occupied by the Information Technology Department.
Borges and Texas
Borges admired Texas, his first point of contact with the US. So much so that it inspired him to write a sonnet dedicated to the state. In it, he highlights the similarities of the Texas plains with the Argentine pampas, the cowboy and the gaucho. Borges also wrote a story calledEl soborno (The Bribe), set in Parlin Hall, where the Department of English is housed.
Texas By Jorge Luis Borges Translated by A.Z. Foreman
And so it is here too. Here too, as at the Americas’ other edge: the measureless plain where a cry dies unattended. Yes, here too, the Indian, mustang, lariat.
Here too the secret bird that ever yet over the clamorings of history sings for an evening and its memory;
here too the stars with mystic alphabet that dictate to my writing hand below such names, today, as the unceasing maze of days and turning days does not displace, as San Jacinto and the Alamo, and such Thermopylaes. Here, too, is rife
with that brief unknown anxious thing called life.
Texas Jorge Luis Borges
Aquí también. Aquí, como en el otro confín del continente, el infinito campo en que muere solitario el grito; aquí también el indio, el lazo, el potro.
Aquí también el pájaro secreto que sobre los fragores de la historia canta para una tarde y su memoria; aquí también el místico alfabeto
de los astros, que hoy dictan a mi cálamo nombres que el incesante laberinto de los días no arrastra: San Jacinto
y esas otras Termópilas, el Álamo. Aquí también esa desconocida y ansiosa y breve cosa que es la vida.
Henry Moore’s sculptures in Dallas: a brief description of the artist’s works in the city of Dallas displayed in museums and the City Hall.
I’m drawn to the soft curves of Henry Moore’s sculptures. To me, they seem to shift shape. What one day I see as a bull, the next can be a vertebrae. Moore’s works can be found in museums, art galleries and collections from around the world. Let’s have a look at Henry Moore’s sculptures in Dallas.
Who was Henry Moore?
Henry Spencer Moore (1898-1986) was a British artist famous for his semi-abstract bronze sculptures. Many of these are on a monumental scale and are displayed around the world as public art.
Moore was born in a small Yorkshire mining town. He wanted to become a sculptor, but his parents were opposed to the idea. So he trained as a teacher.
However, after serving in the Army during World War I, Moore got a scholarship which he used to study art at Leeds School of Art and the Royal College of Art.
His experiences in the war, for sure. Moore became the symbol of post-war modernism. According to Tate Britain, “Moore’s art engages with key artistic, intellectual and political issues of his time: the trauma of war – seen in his response to both World Wars, as well as the 1930s descent into war and later Cold War anxieties – together with new ideas of sexuality and the body, and the influence of non-western art, psychoanalysis and Surrealism.”
Henry Moore also found inspiration in natural objects like rocks, bones or shells.
Primitive art played a big role in Moore’s art in the 1920s and 1930s. He would sketch sculptures and artefacts he saw at the British Museum, like prehistoric fertility goddesses or Inuit artefacts.
Mont-Saint-Michel is a spectacular medieval abbey and village perched on a rocky tidal island off the coast on Normandy, France.
I’ve always thought that Mont-Saint-Michel looks like the prow of an ocean liner. It rises proud and majestic in the midst the large sandbanks situated between Normandy and Brittany in France.
So, what is Mont-Saint-Michel? It’s a medieval abbey surrounded by a fortified town built on a small island. Not only that, Mont-Saint-Michel has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Let’s have a look at this amazing ancient site.
Mont-Saint-Michel: medieval centre of learning and pilgrimage
Legend has it that theArchangel Michael pressured Aubert, bishop of Avranches, to build a small church dedicated to him, the archangel. The chosen location? The top of a rocky island just off the coast. Bishop Aubert did as he was told and had the church built in the early 8th century (708).
Later, in 966, a group of Benedictine monks settled on the island with the support of the Duke of Normandy. They built an abbey, also consecrated to St. Michael, in the Romanesque style. The oldest part of the abbey, the small church of Notre-Dame-Sous-Terre, can still be seen and dates back to the 10th century. Also from the Romanesque period is the nave of the abbey church.
During the Gothic period, the builders made the most of the restricted space available. They built the conventual buildings known as the elegant “Marveille” (the Marvel) above the chaplaincy. The Marveille comprises the Hotes and the Chevaliers rooms, the refectory and the cloisters, which is open to the sea. The views from up there are wonderful.
Mont-Saint-Michel attracted some the greatest minds and illuminators in Europe. Thus, it became one of the most important centres of learning and pilgrimage of the Middle Ages.
The abbey wasn’t impervious to the outside world.The Hundred Years War against England in the 14th century made it necessary to fortify the islands with ramparts in case of an invasion. And the abbey was used as a prison during the French Revolution and the Empire.
Fortunately for us, restoration work began in the late 19th century.
the medieval town
As mentioned before, Mont-Saint-Michel was a popular pilgrimage centre. It was only natural that a village grew at the base of the abbey to cater for the needs of the pilgrims. The town flourished on the south-east side behind the defensive walls from the Hundred Year War.
Nowadays, the medieval village is the first place you see on arriving. Bring your best walking shoes because the narrow cobbled streets wind up to the abbey. All kinds of shops cater for the tourist, you’ll lots of tat for sale. Move on. However, it’s a pretty place for photographs (if you can get away from the crowds).
There are lodgings, bars and restaurants as well. One of the most famous one is La Mère Poulard, famous for its omelettes. Don’t bother trying to eat there without a reservation. And prepare to be fleeced, things are more expensive on the island.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
The UNESCO declared Mont-Saint-Michel a world heritage site in 1979. They used the following criteria:
Criterion (i): Through the unique combination of the natural site and the architecture, the Mont-Saint-Michel constitutes a unique aesthetic success.
Criterion (iii): Mont-Saint-Michel is an unequalled ensemble, as much because of the co-existence of the abbey and its fortified village within the confined limits of a small island, as for the originality of the placement of the buildings which accord with its unforgettable silhouette.
Criterion (vi): Mont Saint-Michel is one of the most important sites of medieval Christian civilisation.
Can’t really argue with that!
Back in the day, you could drive to the island and park very close to the base of the abbey. You had to be mindful of the rides, according to the signs posted everywhere. In spring, the bay is subject to the largest tidal range in continental Europe (almost 25 kilometres from the shore).
But there is a new access now. The visitors car park is approximately 3 kilometres away from the island. Modern shuttle buses and horse-drawn carriages take you from the Visitors Centre at the Place des Navettes to the mount.
Experts suggest staying in a hotel on the mainland. This is what we did and didn’t regret the decision. It’s easy to drive to and from the Mount and there are more accommodation options.
Early morning or late afternoon are the best times to arrive and walk around the village, especially during peak tourist season. As I mentioned before, be prepared to face large crowds.
Here are the prices to park your car/camper van/coach/motorbike and the price of the shuttle. There’s also a kennel for your dog.
An abridged history of the May Revolution, the fledgling nation of Argentina’s giant first step towards full independence from Spain.
In today’s world, events that take place in one continent have an immediate ripple effect across the globe. It is usually about the economy, like the price of crude oil. Sometimes, it is political events that cause upheavals, like revolutions.
Now, imagine a time when news took weeks or even months to spread. Letter and newspapers were shipped across the ocean. By the time they reached their destination, the news was already old.
That is what happened in the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata in 1810. Events across the world and old news impacted the destiny of a fledgling nation.
The Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata
Located in the southern tip of South America, the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata was one of the many Spanish colonies in the New World. King Carlos III had issued orders to create a buffer viceroyalty in 1776 to decentralise the rule of his large empire and to beef up military defences to stop the Portuguese from encroaching on the king’s lands. The viceroyalty comprised what is now Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, and Paraguay.
It is hard to imagine nowadays how two seemingly unconnected events across the ocean trigger the independence process in Argentina. And it all comes down to one man: Napoleon Bonaparte.
Part of the strategy of Napoleon’s war against Britain was to blockade trade and thus destroy British commerce. Neutral nations and French allies were not permitted to trade with Great Britain. Thus, the Brits set out to find new, albeit captive, markets for their products.
On the other hand, French forces had invaded Spain and Bonaparte placed his brother Joseph on the throne. Spanish loyalists created juntas that ruled in the named of the exiled king Ferdinand VII.
The BRITISH INVASIONS
British forces attempted to invade Buenos Aires twice, in 1806 and 1807. Local militia repelled them both times. This stirred rumblings of independence from Spain. The criollos (Argentine-born Europeans) figured that if they could defend the city without support from the Motherland, they could well rule themselves.
ON THE ROAD TO SELF-RULE: the may revolution
Now, the criollos believed that the dominions had the right to govern themselves in the absence of the lawful king. However, the viceroyalty was under the aegis of the Junta Nacional de Sevilla. The junta fell in January, but the news reached these shores on May 14, 1810. This definitely set the independence movement in motion.
While Viceroy Cisneros tried to placate the population, a group of prominent citizens met in secret to plot against the Crown. They decided to ask Cornelio Saavedra, who played a key role in the defense of Buenos Aires against the British, to ask the viceroy for a cabildo abierto(an open council meeting). Cisneros ignored the petition.
By May 21, tempers ran high. A crowd gathered outside the Cabildo demanding the viceroy’s resignation.
Viceroy Cisneros authorised an open meeting on May 22. Criollos and royalists discussed what to do. The royalists were obviously loyal to the Crown. The criollo faction wanted a new government. They eventually voted the viceroy out.
On May 24, a new junta was created, headed by none other that the deposed Viceroy Cisneros. It didn’t sit well with the criollos.
The following day, tempers ran even higher. After many rows and much shouting from the crowd outside, the Cabildo accepted the viceroy’s resignation as head of the junta.
the may revolution in full swing
By 3 pm, a new government led by criollos was put in place: the Primera Junta de Gobierno. The people gathered outside celebrated the first giant step towards sovereignty. Argentina gained full independence from Spain in 1816.
We celebrate the May Revolution (la Revolución de Mayo) with traditional foods like hot chocolate and pastelitos (fried pastries filled with quince or sweet potato jam) in the afternoon and locrofor lunch.
The castles I chose are mainly medieval, or of medieval origins, except one. Some were converted to museums, some are just ruins and one is a private residence as well as tourist attraction.
All of my castles have fascinating stories. Let’s visit them (virtually, of course)
Arundel Castle, West Sussex, England
Built in the late 11th century, Arundel has been the seat of the dukes of Norfolk for over 850 years. The oldest bit is the gatehouse, built in 1070. Read more about my visit here.
Guildford Castle, Surrey, England
There’s little left of Guildford Castle: the Great Tower, sections of wall, the moat. However, it’s one of my favourite places to visit in Guildford. This castle dates back to the Norman Conquest, its has seen a lot!
Mont Orgueil (Gorey Castle), Gorey, Jersey, Channel Islands
I absolutely loved the views from the castle and of the castle. I used to take long walks here when we lived in Jersey. Gorey Castle, also called Mont Orgueil, is located on the cliffs above the fishing village of Gorey. The castle was built from 1204 onward, when King John of England lost his lands in Normandy.
Topkapi Palace, Istanbul, Turkey
Not a castle, but a palace. I really enjoy the visit.It opened my eyes to a different culture and a different way of life, albeit one that is no more. Topkapi (1459) was the sultans’ residence until the late 1600s, when they favoured their palaces along the Bosphorus.
Castle of the Moors, Sintra, Portugal
The Castelo dos Mouros is a witness to the conquest of the Iberian Peninsula at the hands of the Muslims in the 8th century. The castle is from the 8th and 9th centuries and is strategically located on top of a hill. So much fascinating history between the walls here!
Leeds Castle, Kent, England
Leeds was the first castle I visited with Sean. It was in 2002. We were on our way back from Dover and the castle happened to be on the way, near the M20. Leeds Castle was built on two islands on the River Len. It went from being the wooden structure of a Saxon leader to being a Norman stone fortress in the XII century.
Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh Castle’s history as a fortification begins in the Iron Age. It was the scene of the Scottish independence struggle in the 13th and 14th centuries. Edinburgh Castle was also a royal residence. It commands incredible views from the top of hill. Absolutely breathtaking.
Let’s go on a virtual tour of 6 of the most amazing cathedrals around the world: Reims, Durham, Córdoba, New Orleans, Siena and Santa Maria del Mar
No, I’m not suggesting that you physically visit six cathedrals in six days, although that would be lovely. As we all must stay home in an effort to fight this horrible pandemic, what I suggest is the we travel virtually.
So, I started a series on my social media channels. The first series was on cathedrals. I love cathedrals, I love their history and art. Most posts are bilingual English-Spanish.
Let’s go! The cathedrals are in no particular order, just whichever one I wanted to share at the time.
The Royal Ontario Museum is Canada’s largest museum. Its collections spotlights art, culture and nature from across the world and the centuries. Located very close to the University of Toronto, its mission is to “transform lives by helping people to understand the past, make sense of the present and come together to shape a shared future.”
The Royal Ontario Museum is Canada’s largest museum. Its collections spotlights art, culture and nature from across the world and the centuries. Located very close to the University of Toronto, its mission is to “transform lives by helping people to understand the past, make sense of the present and come together to shape a shared future.”
A few years ago, we lived in Toronto for several months. I would go out and explore the city almost every day. On one of these excursions, I visited the Royal Ontario Museum. They had a special exhibition going on: the Dead Sea Scrolls. Fantastic, I thought.
I battled the crowds to buy a ticket first, and then, to see the exhibition. My expectations built up as I went along the exhibit cases. The climax was the scrolls. What an anticlimax! They looked like rags with something scribbled on them. Anyway, I felt so lucky to be able to see such an important piece of history and culture.
This is why I love museums, because you can see objects that changed the history of humankind in so many ways. I’ll never forget that visit to the Royal Ontario Museum (PSA: avoid Wednesdays, especially during the summer. It’s their busiest day, I was told.)
The Royal Ontario Museum
This National Landmark was officially opened to the public in March 1914. It underwent successive expansions in 1933, 1947, 1968, 1988. The latest to date, and largest, took place in 2002, when The Crystal was added.
At the beginning, the Royal Ontario Museum was governed jointly by the Government of Ontario and the University of Toronto, hence its location in the University district.
The museum buildings are a hodgepodge of architectural styles: Italianate and Neo-Romanesque in the original building Western Wing;) Art Deco, Neo-Byzantine and Gothic Revival in the Eastern Wing; Deconstructivism in the Crystal.
The addition of the Crystal caused a big controversy. I imagine it must have like that of the Louvre pyramid. Jamaican-Canadian businessman Michael Lee-Chin donated CAD 30 million towards the construction of the Crystal which bears his name. Designed in the Deconstructivist style, the Crystal opened in 2007. It is clad in 25% glass Abd 75% aluminium on top of a steel frame.
It is the museum’s main entrance, on Bloor Street. Inside is the three-story-high atrium, a gift shop, seven galleries, a cafeteria and a restaurant and a temporary exhibition hall.
The Royal Ontario Museum has 27 galleries for its permanent collections. Let’s have a look at some of them.
Eaton Gallery of Rome (Level 3)
This the Canada’s largest collection of Roman artifacts. It spans 1,000 years of the history of Rome from Republic to Empire. I learned about different aspects of everyday life and how Roman culture influenced the culture of the places she invaded. The time frame for this collection is 900 BC to AD 476, the Fall of Rome at the hands of the Visigoths.
Reed Gallery of the Age of Mammals (Level 2)
I was thrilled to find a Glyptodon from Mar del Plata, Argentina, in the collection. Not surprising, since the collection represents the biodiversity of North and South America 65 million years ago. Mastodon, sabre-toothed cat and the giant ground sloth are also part of the collection
James and Louise Temerty Galleries of the Age of Dinosaurs (Level 2)
One of my favourite galleries. I love dinosaurs. The specimens here are from the Jurassic (200 to 145 million years old) and the Cretaceous (145 to 65 million years old). Tyrannosaurus rex, Stegosaurus and Triceratops are some of the fossils in this collection.
Galleries of Africa: Egypt (Level 3)
I found this gallery fascinating. I could see a mummy face to face, although I’m a bit squeamish. The 2,000 objects on display (4000 BC to AD 400) include a fragment of the Book of the Dead. How interesting is that! The total number of artifacts amounts to 25,000.
Gallery of Chinese Architecture (Level 1)
This gallery showcases “the largest and best collection of Chinese architectural artifacts outside of China.” I don’t know whether that’s true; however, I found the collection pretty impressive. Among the more than 200 objects, the Ming, Han and Tang tombs really stand out.
Sigmund Samuel Gallery of Canada (Level 1)
Here I learned a lot about Canadian heritage and history. The emphasis is on the early French and British settlers’ legacy: furniture, portraits, religious artifacts and the like.
Daphne Cockwell Gallery Dedicated to First Peoples Art and Culture (Level 1)
This was my first encounter with the rich artistic and cultural heritage of Canadian First Peoples. I loved the intricate decoration of some garments and learning how they survived the cold (way too cold for me!)
The other galleries of the Royal Ontario Museum
The rest of the galleries are, of course, worth taking the time to visit. Greece, Ancient Cyprus, a bat cave, the Gallery of Birds, the Bronze Age Aegean culture, Korea, Byzantium, Rome and the Near East, South Asia, Biodiversity, Chinese Temple Art, the Middle East, Nubia are well represented at the Royal Ontario Museum.
Planning a spring getaway? The absolute best 27 spring vacation ideas will make planning a breeze from cherry blossoms to flower festivals and city breaks.
Spring is drawing near and the desire to see new places and live new experiences kicks in. To help you plan your ideal getaway, a few blogger friends share their favourite spring vacation ideas. There’s something for everyone, from beautiful blossoms to unexpected city breaks.
27 spring break vacation ideas
Gorgeous Madeira and its flower festival
My favourite spring getaway is Madeira Island, a small Portuguese island on the Atlantic. Madeira is unique and it is a perfect destination for any time of the year. But one of the best months to visit it is May. The reason? The magnificent Madeira Island Flower Festival.
This beautiful cultural event lasts a couple of weeks and it is a true tribute to spring. There are concerts, performances, exhibitions and all sorts of flower-related attractions. Local shops compete for the title of the prettiest flower shop window display. Also, one of Funchal’s avenues changes into a colourful flower market selling flower bulbs, exotic fruit and local food and drinks. Everything is beautifully decorated with flower arrangements; some streets are even covered with flower carpets.
The main event of the festival is the Cortejo Alegórico – the Flower Parade, where adults and children alike parade through the main avenue of Funchal, showing off their carefully prepared choreography. The parade cars are true works of art, same as their colourful and carefully prepared flower costumes. The atmosphere is great, it is a wonderful event to watch. In my opinion, it is one of the most beautiful parades in the world.
Madeira Flower Festival 2020 will take place between April 30th to May 24th. If you love flowers and spring, it is definitely something you should include in your travel agenda.
Paris is always a good idea… but don’t think twice if you have the chance to travel to Paris in spring.
The days get longer and warmer, and the terraces get fuller. After a long winter, life happens finally outside again, and Paris awakes from its long hibernation. It’s the time for an Apéro outdoors – wine and some nibbles before dinner – on a terrace, and sunny afternoon walks along the Seine.
Spring is not only the time of bloom and blossoms, it’s also the best season to enjoy art, food and music. For example, at the Saint-Germain-des-Près Jazz festival or the Taste of Paris – a massive gourmet food festival in the beautiful Grand Palais. Both are happening in mid-May and are a perfect reason to travel to Paris.
And then there are, of course, all the sights! Paris is packed with landmarks and museums. The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum and the Champs Élysées are nice to visit in every season. However, taking a Seine Cruise is a highlight of a weekend getaway to Paris in spring. You can expect warm and sunny weather in spring, and enjoying Paris from the comfort of a river cruise boat is just priceless.
Salut from Paris is run by Lena, an expat in Paris since 14 years. yd in Paris. On her blog she shares local knowledge and travel advise to help you plan the best Paris
Cinque Terre, five stunning Italian hillside towns
Cinque Terre is one of the most stunningly beautiful places in Italy-perhaps the world! The only problem is that everyone knows it and it gets so crowded in the summer. That makes spring a great time to visit there. The weather gets warmer, the hiking is not as hot as in the summer, and the crowds are fewer.
To really get the feel of the area, stay in one of the towns. Don’t just visit for the day. I stayed for three days and am dying to go back and stay a week. When the cruise ship people leave for the day is when you get that small Italian feel and it is just perfect. Wander the streets of whatever town you decide to stay in (I stayed in Monterosso), grab dinner, and chat with some locals over gelato.
At every turn, there is a picturesque scene. The colorful houses with laundry hanging out, a bike leaning on an old door, an old church, or the many fishing boats in the Mediterranean Sea all call for Instagram moments. Be sure and take the ferry that will let you explore each town as they are ALL incredible. Eat seafood, focaccia (it’s the best there!), and plenty of gelato! There is a reason that Cinque Terre is so crowded in the summer so beat the crowds and go in the spring!
Pam Iorg and her daughter Alex write the blog Travel Hacking Mom where they teach beginners how to travel hack. She has earned millions of points and uses them to travel the world.
The French ski resort of Les Arcs
The world’s second largest ski resort is open until the end of April, making it one of thebest spring skiing getaways in Europe. Nestled in the Auvergne Rhone Alps, Les Arcs is part of the Paradiski ski area and is made up of five sites ranging from 1600-2000 meters. The ski resort is accessible from Lyon and Geneva airport and also via the Eurostar to Bourg St Maurice. Les Arcs has a whopping 262 runs which offer plenty of options for all levels of skier.
Skiing is the perfect spring getaway as its cheaper than winter, and with clear blue skies, there’s plenty of chances to top up your vitamin D. Spring is considerably warmer so you can wear fewer layers, but contrary to belief the most snow actually falls during this season! However the slopes are a lot quieter, reducing the need to queue for ski lifts. Besides, with longer days, there’s more time to ski.
Les Arcs in particular is great during spring as it has plenty of unique activities. Aiguille Rouge (3226m) hosts the highest mountain yoga session in Europe and “First Track” opens, where for only 19 euros, you can enjoy sunrise on the slopes. Plus be one of the first people to sample the freshly groomed pistes, followed by breakfast in one of the mountain huts with the ski patrol. For kids, this season is perfect as the Mille 8 freestyle area is open which has an outdoor kids play area, pistes just for children and even a swimming pool. For teenagersthere is a half pipe and water slide that they can ski through. Plus if you want to spend time together as a family, the toboggan runs are popular with both adults and children alike, making Les Arcs the perfect spring getaway.
Roshni – The Wanderlust Within – a travel blog devoted to adventure travel to hidden gems around the globe.
Bend, the adventure capital of the USA
My favorite spring getaway is definitely Bend, Oregon. This
town is often referred to as the adventure capital of the United States and
it’s easy to see why. Bend is surrounded in every direction by dense forests,
pristine rivers, clear lakes, and unique geological features ranging from
stratovolcanoes to lofty rock formations. The nature in this area is absolutely
breathtaking and will leave you wondering why you waited so long to
Although Bend offers a variety of outdoor activities throughout the entire year, springtime is when the snow finally begins to melt and most hiking trails become accessible again. There are so many scenic hikes near Bend, Oregon that it’s almost impossible to keep track of all of them. Some of my personal favorite hiking trails in the area include Misery Ridge, Deschutes River, Sparks Lake, and Tumalo Falls. Another reason to visit in the spring is due to the fact that you’ll be avoiding the tourist high season by a couple of months while still experiencing relatively pleasant weather.
Overall, Bend is one of the best kept secrets in the United
States and spring is the best time to explore everything that the area has to
Michael is the founder of Passport Explored, a blog that focuses on unique destinations throughout the world. His goal is to inspire people to step outside of their comfort zone and live without regrets.
Celebrate the Persian Spring in Baku
Baku is one of my favourite spring destinations. The capital of Azerbaijan does not only have pleasant temperatures and great weather in spring, but is also celebrating its biggest festival. Nowruz is the Persian spring festival celebrated throughout Central Asia, Iran and Azerbaijan.
Although the festival is originally on the 21st of March, Baku sees festivities far into April. You can see concerts, folk singers, theatre performances, traditional games and people jumping over fires. It is a joyous time to be in the capital of Azerbaijan. Nowruz immediately draws you into Baku’s multicultural past.
Azerbaijan is at the crossroads of Europe and Asia and was an important city on the Silk Road. Plenty of cultures have left a legacy. From the Zoroastrian Persians to the Muslim Ottomans and the atheist Soviets. Nowadays most Azeri’s follow Shia Islam like their neighbours in Iran.
What attracted people to Baku was its wealth from the oil and gas reserves in the area. From Baku you can visit the burning hills where gas evaporates from the earth and where an ignited fire continues burning. Ancient fire temples around Baku suggest that there were more such places. Therefore, Azerbaijan’s symbol are the new flame towers that rise above the city.
Besides the historical attractions in Baku’s scenic old town, the city is also full of fancy modern architecture projects. Along the Caspian sea boulevard you can find Azerbaijan’s carpet museum shaped like a carpet, and a little bit further is the Heydar Aliyevs cultural centre in a creative form of white waves.
Córdoba in Spain is a great destination to visit at any time of the year. Located only 2 hours away from Madrid (by a fast train), this charming Andalusian city offers many attractions for history, culture and food lovers. But visiting Córdoba in spring is especially magical thanks to it numerous spring festivals
One of the most popular spring festivals is the ‘Battle of the Flowers’. During this colorful event, a procession of decorated floats makes it way along the city’s main streets, with local women singing traditional songs and wearing Gypsy outfits. At noon, the women throw hundreds of flowers into the crowd.
Another unique festival is the ‘Crosses of May’ during which a competition is held and crosses throughout the city are decorated with flowers by groups of neighbors and hermandades (Catholic brotherhoods). You can get the map of the crosses from the tourist office in town and go treasure hunting.
The third festival is the ‘Patios Festival’ during which the locals open their houses for visitors to admire the beautiful patios, which are an essential part of the local culture. Córdoba is full of beautiful patios, but this is a unique opportunity to see some of the most impressive ones.
Finally, the ‘Spring Fair’ is the last event in May, and it takes place just outside the city. The area is filled with small tents where people gather to eat, drink and dance. Anyone can join the festivities, so grab a drink, eat some tapas and enjoy the dancing.
Choose your favorite festival and visit Córdoba in spring, and don’t forget to visit some of the most famous attractions in the city such as the Mezquita, the old Jewish quarter, the Calahorra Tower and many more. For all of the attractions and recommended restaurants, check out our Córdoba Travel Guide.
Maya & Sari – Chasing Lenscapes . We are sisters and photographers who are all about trendy cities, cool neighborhoods, culture, local artists and stunning scenery. We share with our readers detailed city guides, helpful tips and stunning visuals.
If you are looking for the ultimate spring getaway, we would love to recommend you visit Vienna. Particularly at this time of the year, the Austrian capital is very lovely and shows its most beautiful sides. The temperatures in spring are usually pleasant, so you can safely leave your cardigan and scarf. On a walk through the city you will discover the most beautiful attractions of Vienna and, at the same time, enjoy how the city comes to life.
Really amazing are the many picturesque parks, which are just lovely at this time. Like the Schönbrunn Park, for example, where you can visit the Schönbrunn Palace, the beautiful botanical garden and the city zoo. But also the park at Belvedere Palace absolutely magical and invites you to linger. A real highlight in Vienna and one of our favorite gardens is the historical Volksgarten, where you will enjoy lovely flower gardens!
Those who prefer more action should visit the Vienna Prater, the city’s famous amusement park. There is definitely something for everyone here! If you like, try the latest and wildest attractions, or ride the nostalgic giant wheel – the symbol of the city.
Vienna in spring is one of our favorite places and a trip is absolutely worth it!
Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, is the ideal spring destination. The weather at this time of year could be described as perfect. Not yet has the intense heat of the summer arrived, and instead, it is comfortably warm enough for plenty of alfresco drinking and dining. Something that Lisbon has so much choice of.
Lisbon is a very walkable city, so the sunny but fresh spring climate makes it easy to take in the beautiful sights on foot. And if you happen to get a spring rain shower, jump on one of the many cheap and fun old trams which zip to every corner of town.
On a clear spring day, make sure to visit as many of the Lisbon viewpoints as possible. Miradouro das Portas do Sol in Alfama is our favorite, a wide open balcony offering uninterrupted views of Lisbon old town from above with the backdrop of the splendid Monastery of Sao Vicente and the Tagus River.
If the spring sun is warmer than usual, it’ll be more than hot enough to head to the nearbycoast for a day at the beach. Lisbon’s beaches offer wild waves for surfing to calm, serene bays.
And at night during spring, Alama’s old town Fado singers start to set up outside, giving the district it’s unique and romantic charm that’s not common to experience during the winter.
Adventures for the whole family in New River Gorge
Discover beautiful and adventurousNew River Gorge located in West Virginia, USA. The New River Gorge comes alive in springtime as the wildflowers paint the mountainside offering guests breath-taking views and photographs. New River Gorge is a National Park that offers guests everything from zip lining to white water rafting. Those looking for a little less extreme can enjoy shopping, hiking, and other fun attractions.
During the spring, the bursts of color from all the wildflowers are stunning. Enjoy a guided nature hike or sign up for one of their special spring flower photography hikes. A favorite is to explore the ghost towns of Thurmond and Nuttalburg that can be found within the National Park. Spring is also the ideal time to venture on the New River Gorge Bridge Walk. This walk takes daring guests on a 3,030-foot walk underneath the famous New River Bridge. Those brave enough will be rewarded with the experience of a lifetime and astounding photos.
One of the highlights of visiting this national treasure during the spring is that the crowds are low and so are the prices. Take advantage of renting a rustic cabin, fewer lines for popular attractions and enjoy the peaceful serenity of the great outdoors.
Stephanie is the curious mom behind the family travel blog, Consistently Curious. Her goal is to inspire unique adventures and find great family-friendly destinations.
Amsterdam is special in spring
My favourite spring getaway isn’t so much a getaway as it is the place I love to live in. But let me explain why, because there really is something special about Amsterdam in spring, and I’m not just talking about the tulips. There is still so much more to Amsterdam in springtime than those beautiful flowers that can be found all over the city during the Tulip Festival. It runs in April in the famous Keukenhof Spring Gardens, which is an easy day-trip away, or in the iconic striped tulip fields of the Netherlands, some of which can be found just outside the city.
Other flowers and blossoms that you can discover in Amsterdam on a spring getaway are the lesser known cherry blossoms that can be found all over the city, but especially in Kersenbloesempark (Cherry Blossom Park). It’s a collection of Japanese Sakura trees gifted to the Netherlands by Japan. Then a little later on in the season is the curious phenomenon of spring snow. The city’s Elm trees, many of which line the canals, shed their seeds leaving a blanket of off-white “snow” everywhere.
While the weather in Amsterdam in spring can be unpredictable and often as cold as winter, it’s also true that you can luck out and actually experience summer-like temperatures. That’s what everyone hopes for on King’s Day on April 27th. A national holiday in the Netherlands, this is the day the city turns orange with street parties happening everywhere. Also, the so-called “free markets” (where residents can sell whatever they want on the street for one day only) turning every neighbourhood into a flea market. You have to see it to believe it!
Shoulder season is the perfect time to spend a couple of days in Copenhagen thanks to the great weather for sightseeing. This is the time for sidewalk shops and restaurants to open for longer hours, and flea markets, street parties, and picnics become commonplace.
Start the season off with a visit to the Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival. Make the best of the fantastic weather with a trip to Bakken, the oldest amusement park in the world, and only 15 minutes from the city centre by train. Take a ride on a roller coaster, explore the drop tower, and marvel at the sight of the 2000 plus free-range deer which live at the park.
Copenhagen is known for its tulips and rapeseed fields which bloom in spring, and the season is perfect for exploring the yellow-draped countryside. For some sporting adventure, go skiing at Copenhill. Alternatively, Copenhill offers hiking, rock climbing, and other activities for all fitness levels.
Renowned for its elaborate and well-kept parks, be sure to take a slow Sunday walk through King’s Garden, the Botanical Garden. Also known as Frederiksberg Gardens, you will be received by the king it is named after.
Explore the city using various modes, from walking and cycling to a Segway tour, or by boat along the seaside. Cyclists are recommended to make use of the Bicycle Snake, a bridge dedicated to Copenhagen’s biking culture. It offers a beautiful view while transiting across the harbour.
Mallorca is a wonderful place to visit in spring. Visit in February/March and you’ll find fantastic blossom on the trees, lambs in the field and (usually!) bright blue skies. This time of year is also brilliant because you avoid the crush of visitors that descend during the summer months. It’s then that the beachside package holiday hotels fill up, the roads get busy and Mallorca is best avoided (in my opinion!)
During spring, the island feels much more exclusive. I’d suggest hiring a car and heading north from Palma airport, up into the stunning Serra Tramuntana mountains. Here it’s hard not to fall in love with this incredible island. The Serra Tramuntana UNESCO World Heritage mountains stretch from the northwest tip of the island down to the southwest tip. They’re a jagged range of grey, craggy mountains that run parallel with the sea.
From March onwards lots of cyclists arrive to cycle the impressive roads, like the twisting Sa Calobra that descends like a strand of cooked spaghetti from the top of the mountain down to the sea. It’s quite a feat of engineering but one best avoided if you don’t like narrow roads and steep drop offs!
Within the Serra Tramuntana you find beautiful towns such as Sóller, Deià and Valldemossa. They’re immaculate towns full of creamy stone buildings, extremely good restaurants and wonderful coastal panoramas.
Dubrovnik is the picture perfect fort city in Croatia with a very youthful vibe. Spring is my favorite time to visit Dubrovnik because the city has a lot to offer before the summer crowds and cruise ships take over.
This UNESCO World Heritage fort city was a rival to Venice and still is in some ways. Unlike Venice, Dubrovnik has more space, greenery and mountain top views. It is also not as threatened by over tourism, cruise ships and rising sea levels.
Dubrovnik was made famous by the many epic movies and shows like Game of Thrones, Star Wars, James Bond, and Robin Hood. It has the perfect venues for medieval and war footage. But in real life it has the most dramatic and painful history with the wars when much of the fort city was destroyed by air strikes, as recently as in the 1990s.
We took awalking tour of Dubrovnikwith a young girl born during the siege in an underground makeshift hospital. She lived through the horrors and has been part of rebuilding the city into a thriving destination for tourists, die-hard Game of Thrones fans, students and young party goers.
Dubrovnik has something for everyone – history buffs, movie fans, party goers, foodies, photographers, hikers and more. While in Dubrovnik, I would highly recommend a walk on the fort walls and a trolley ride up the mountain to see the city from up above with the background of the Mediterranean Sea. It’s breathtaking, especially at sunset.
Relax surrounded by volcanoes in Antigua (Guatemala)
Antigua in Guatemala is one of my favorite destinations for a spring getaway. Why? Because it’s an affordable city that has so much to offer. The city itself is a UNESCO Heritage Site containing relics of the traditional Guatemala culture, many of those in shambles due to the 1773 Guatemala earthquake.
Other than culture, Antigua is the perfect place to go if you want to relax and soak in some sun. An hour away from the volcanic crater Lake Atitlan, visitors can bathe in the glorious Guatemala sun while soaking in views of the volcanoes that surround it. One of those volcanoes is volcano Acatenango, a volcano that is hikable and a popular thing to do in Antigua.
If you want to see a volcano eruption (and live to tell the tale), then you cannot miss hiking volcano Acatenango. Near the top of Acatenango, you have a clear view of volcano Fuego, a volcano that erupts numerous times daily.
So, if that hasn’t convinced you to visit Antigua Guatemala yet what about the unique eco-lodge called Hobbitenango. A “The-Hobbits” themed lodge, visitors can stay in an adorable hobbit hole without visiting Hobbiton in New Zealand. Antigua is the proper place for a spring vacation!
If you’re planning a spring trip to Asia, cherry blossoms in Japan or South Korea would instantly come into mind. But only few people know that there’s an underrated place for sakura viewing that lies just few miles away from the Japanese archipelago: Taiwan. Cherry blossoms are scattered within this island country during spring and one of its most sakura-filled places is Taichung, 165 kilometers south of the capital Taipei City or an hour train ride via Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR).
What makes it special is that you get the same sakura experience without having to squeeze yourself among the huge crowd. There are tourists from other countries as well but the visitors consist mostly of locals from different parts of Taiwan so it’s not so touristy (yet).
The cherry blossoms in Taichung are in Yaezakura type, which is the type having more than 5 petals. Taichung is indeed one of the best places to witness the pinkest sakura there is. The cherry trees here bloom between February and mid-April with a very comfortable and mild climate. Tai’an in Houli District and Sun Moon Lake are among the best sites to consider.
Tai’an is an hour drive from the Taichung city proper while Sun Moon Lake is a little less than 2 hours. Although Sun Moon Lake is in Nantou County, It’s entry point is still from Taichung. Another one worth checking out is the National Chi Nan University which is a huge campus with 20 hectares of cherry blossom woods. Contrary to popular belief, ‘the most cherry blossom-filled university’ title goes to Taiwan and not Japan!
True enough, there surely is no shortage of alluring cherry blossom sites in this area which makes up for a colorful and charming spring trip with loved ones
Seattle is a fantastic destination for a spring getaway. Seattle is alwaysa fun destination with tons of museums, art, culture and nature to explore, but it’s especially great at spring time.
With all the rain that Seattle gets, it becomes stunning in spring as flowers come into bloom. With beautiful cherry blossom trees bursting with flowers in March and the tulip festival running in April, it’s really an amazing time of year to appreciate Seattle’s beauty. The best place to take in the beautiful flowers is the University of Washington, the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, the Botanical Gardens or even just take in the especially colorful bouquets that are sold around Pike Market.
Spring is also a great time for marine wildlife lovers. While you can try to spot whales in Seattle’s waters throughout the year, the best time for spotting Orcas and Grey Whales in their native environment is spring! You can take a tour specifically to find them but you may get lucky and spot them even on a regular ferry ride.
On top of all the other reasons to visit in springtime, another benefit is how budget friendly Seattle is in spring. Because Seattle’s high tourist season is summer, you can find tons of great deals on hotels and packages for visiting this time of year.
If you’re looking for a perfect USA springtime break (not Spring Break), head to Florida and the quieter side of the peninsula in southwest Florida. Here, in the Italian-inspired town of Naples, you’ll find the masses of Florida snowbirds (part-time residents who head south to escape the cold winter) getting ready to migrate back north to warmer weather. The heat and rain of south Florida’s summer doesn’t kick in until mid-June, so spring is the perfect time to visit.
During the day, Naples offers great shopping, a vibrant arts scene, and outdoor sports galore. Golf is big in Naples, as are other recreational activities like boating, paddling, cycling, and hiking. At night, the dining scene is spectacular with over 700 restaurants to choose from.
But the biggest draw are the white sand beaches – Naples, Florida has some of the best beaches in the world, an ideal combo with more than 260 sunny days a year! In the spring, every last winter chill has left the Gulf of Mexico and the water becomes as smooth as glass — perfect for swimming or just lazing on the beach.
There are lots of great beaches to visit – from family friendly and dog friendly beaches, to more natural settings like Clam Pass Beach and Delnor Wiggins State Park.
You could hardly be blamed for spending the entire day here relaxing in paradise. And after a long winter, isn’t that just what you’re looking for in a springtime getaway?
Lori and her husband Angelo run Travlinmad, a slow food and travel blog for adventurous travelers. They love to eat and travel, and spend their down time at the beach in south Florida.
Soak up the culture in Wrocław
Wrocław is a fourth-largest Polish city, located in the southwestern part of the country. There are several universities there, and so during the academic year, the city is full of young people from around the world.
Spring is one of the best times to travel to Wroclaw. First of all, you can fly to Wroclaw directly from many European cities and usually every spring this number increases. Spring in Wroclaw is also the beginning of the new cultural season. There are a lot of concerts, cultural events, and festivals covering various music styles and topics.
Wrocław is located on the banks of the Oder River. When the weather gets warmer, you can party till dawn at numerous beach bars. If you are not a party person, you will not get bored. In Wroclaw, there are unique museums, stylish art galleries, green parks, fantastic gardens as well as many cafes, bars, and restaurants offering not only polish cuisine but also international dishes with a wide range of vegan restaurants.
Wroclaw is also the largest city in the historical region of Silesia. If you want to spend a weekend away in the mountains or visit the nearby castles or palaces, you can plan a pleasant day trip from Wroclaw.
We are Marta & Milosz, backpackers from Poland. After 10 years of traveling as a couple, we are now discovering the world with our baby. BackpackersWro is a place where we share our itineraries and tips for well-organized, affordable, and sustainable travels.
Luxuriate in Viterbo’s thermal baths
Spring is the perfect season to visit the Italian city of Viterbo, which lies 80 km north of Rome, in between two volcanic lakes, Bolsena and Vico. Viterbo is as ancient as Rome and was part of the Etruscan League, the ensemble of hubs where the Etruscan civilization flourished.
The reason why Viterbo has been inhabited for thousands of years is because it’s home to several hot springs, which the locals still use nowadays to unwind and to treat the most common ailments. In Viterbo, you will be able to visit the best thermal baths near Rome. Some, as the “Terme Dei Papi”, have a spa, a restaurant, and a hotel. Others, like “Il Bagnaccio”, are more humble and offer bare facilities like changing rooms and toilets.
You can have a unique hot spring experience in all of them, and to wrap up the day, you can take a stroll in Viterbo’s picturesque historical center. Viterbo’s medieval walls are intact and the San Pellegrino district will surprise you with some beautiful architecture in black peperino stone.
The attractions in the city include the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, the “Palazzo Dei Papi”, and the Etruscan Museum. Viterbo is also a city with an incredible number of ancient fountains, that makes the tiny, quiet squares more intriguing.
Staying in Viterbo is cheaper than staying in Rome, and a day at the thermal baths is totally affordable. To reach Viterbo by public transport, take a train directed to Viterbo Porta Fiorentina from Valle Aurelia subway station in Rome (€ 5,10 for one way).
The arrival of cherry blossoms, or sakura in Japanese, turns this megalopolis into a giant pink playground in spring. Tokyoites gather under sakura trees to hold hanami (flower viewing) parties and to celebrate the fleeting beauty of the pink and white blossoms which are only in full bloom for about a week. You can join the hanami fun by stocking up on snacks and drinks at a depachika (department store food hall) or konbini (convenience store) and heading to one of Tokyo’s many green spaces. If you want to avoid the crowds, skip the most popular hanami spots such as Ueno Park and Inokashira Park and head to Kinuta Park instead.
Although there isn’t enough space for a proper hanami picnic here, one of my favourite places to see the cherry blossoms is at the sakura festival in Naka-Meguro. This stretch of the Meguro River is lined with hundreds of cherry trees and pretty lanterns are strung up during the festival. You can find all the Japanese festival staples like yakisoba here, but this hip neighbourhood also has stalls selling pink champagne with strawberries!
There’s no escaping cherry blossoms in Tokyo at this time of year – from shop decorations to cherry blossom-inspired drinks at Starbucks, sakura is everywhere. This enthusiastic celebration of the seasons is one of the things I love most about Japan.
You can usually count on seeing cherry blossoms in Tokyo at the end of March or early April, but the exact dates differ every year. Fortunately, there is a sakura forecastto help you time your trip with the blossoms.
I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather spend a warm spring day than
under a sakura tree with good friends, good food and a glass of sake.
Shannon is a travel and dessert blogger from the UK, she shares detailed itineraries, travel stories and dessert recommendations on her blog: Dessert Highway.
See the best scenic route in Ireland: the Ring of Kerry
Frosty nights and mornings are less and less frequent. Nature is fully bloomed with the colours and birds are singing. Spring is a great time to relax in the nature and escape from the grey cities. One of the best spring destinations in Europe is Ring of Kerry in Ireland.
This looping route around the coast of the Iveragh Peninsula, known as the Ring of Kerry, is Ireland’s best-known scenic drive, leading through picturesque fishing villages, inconspicuous mountains and stormy ocean coast – the southwestern borders of Kerry County. It is one of the most visited locations in Ireland – just perfect for a spring trip!
The drive is worth it any time of year, but during spring months it’s never so busy as it is in summer. OK, you may get stuck behind a herd of sheep! From beautiful villages like Portmagee and Waterville to Valentia Island and The Skelligs – there is a little bit of everything in this part of Ireland.
If you are Star Wars fan, you will be delighted to see some of the locations where The Last Jedi was filmed. Visiting the Skellig Michael will be very top on your list. Ready to spend amazing spring break in Ireland? Book a flight and spend a few days driving around the Ring of Kerry
Edinburgh, Scotland is the ultimate destination for a spring getaway. During springtime, Edinburgh is absolutely bustling with beauty. There are so many outdoor activities in Edinburgh, and the spring weather only makes it more enjoyable!
Arthur’s Seat is a super fun and easy hike that is great for any spring day in Edinburgh. The hike takes no more than four hours to go all the way to the very top and back, and the views are breathtaking. Plus, it’s supposedly where the legendary Camelot was located all those years ago! Another great location to see Edinburgh from above is at Calton Hill, which is an even easier hike than Arthur’s Seat.
During springtime, a lot of Edinburgh’s beautiful storefronts will have flowers in full bloom, such as the ones up and down Victoria Street, the real-life inspiration for J.K. Rowling’s Diagon Alley in the infamous Harry Potter series. The spring weather is perfect for shopping. Be sure to hop into The Boy Wizard and grab some budget-friendly lunch at Oink!
Lastly, Edinburgh’s Royal Mile is stunning during springtime. Walk around the busy street, people-watch, and even visit Edinburgh Castle! There is a multitude of history in Edinburgh alone, and there’s no better time to explore and take it all in than during springtime. My suggested time to visit Edinburgh from past experience is March – May!
Krystianna is the college blogger behind Volumes and Voyages, a blog focusing on her two biggest passions in life, books and travel.
Seoul, from ancient temples to futuristic buildings
Seoul, South Korea’s bustling capital city, ticks all the boxes for the perfect spring getaway.
From ancient temples steeped in history to mind-blowing architectural feats almost transcending you into the future and serene nature a hop, skip, and a jump away – Seoul offers visitors so much more than a quick city break.
Although Seoul is a great city to visit year-round, visiting during spring is highly encouraged. For a few short weeks, the city is blanketed with delicate blush pink blossoms creating an almost mystical atmosphere. Although you won’t need to go far to enjoy the beauty of spring in Seoul, there are a few places worthy of adding to your must-see list.
Visiting the centuries-old palaces are an excellent starting point to kick off yourSeoul itinerary. Since you probably won’t have time to visit all five, be sure not to miss Gyeongbokgung Palace and Changdeokgung Palace. Both have beautiful sprawling grounds filled with cherry trees and several points of interest.
Wandering through the 600-year old Bukchon Hanok Village and taking the iconic cable car ride up Namsan Mountain for sweeping views over the city are other popular things to do while here.
Further afield, head to Lotte World Tower, the sixth tallest building in the world. Before you browse all the fantastic stores, be sure to enjoy a gentle stroll around Seokchon Lake – undoubtedly one of the best places to see cherry blossoms in Seoul.
To really experience Seoul and all its charms, stay at least four or five days. Be sure to book accommodation and flights well in advance as springtime is one of the busiest times to visit here.
Everyone loves springtime, and for a lot of the same reasons – the lush green landscapes, the warming weather and longer days. All of those things seem to resonate even stronger in Philadelphia and it’s one of the best places to visit in the spring.
Philadelphia isn’t the harshest winter climate, but after a long and cold winter which often includes a few major snowstorms. The city comes alive in the spring and here are the best things to do in Philadelphia during spring. The energy is electric and it’s contagious in spring so you’ll likely see people basking in the sun in Philadelphia’s awesome parks. The best ones are Fairmount Park, Rittenhouse Square, and Washington Square. These are great spots for a picnic with the family, a group of friends or a special someone.
Spring in Philadelphia means weekend after weekend of outdoor festivals, pop up beer gardens and concerts in the parks. One of the best places to visit is Penn’s Landing – the Delaware River waterfront. There you’ll find a venue for concerts and festivals, restaurants, bars and a local favorite, Spruce Street Harbor Park. It’s a seasonal urban playground with music, picnic grounds, bar area and street food trucks from some favorite Philadelphia restaurants.
Spring is also a great time to explore the historic attractions of Philadelphia. Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and Ben Franklin’s House are all stops in Philly’s hip Old City neighborhood. There’s also a family-friendly pop-up beer garden in Independence Square called Independence Beer Garden. Spring is the perfect time of year to do a walking tour of Philadelphia or a spooky ghost tour in the evening. Visitors also love visiting the Philadelphia Zoo, the country’s first, in the spring when the animals become active. Philadelphia’s city center is safe, walkable and full of life in the spring.
Vancouver is the perfect destination for a spring getaway.
Although Vancouver is in a country widely known for snow and ice, it is situated in the very southern-most part of Canada, straddling the border with the USA. Spring comes early to Vancouver!
When the dark days and rainy weather taper off in late February, March through May are glorious in Vancouver. The days grow longer, the air smells fresh, everything is green and beginning to blossom and Vancouver is really at its peak.
Vancouver is home to both beautiful public parks and ardent private gardeners. This winning combination makes for a spectacular visual feast during spring. Things are blooming everywhere you look from spring bulbs like tulips, daffodils and irises to beautiful yellow forsythia and dogwood. Vancouver is also home to many cherry trees that produce an amazing display of cherry blossoms in the spring.
Spring in Vancouver is also the perfect time for spring skiing, a phenomenon wherein one can ski on excellent snow in short sleeves. Vancouver’s local mountains have excellent spring skiing into April with an extended spring skiing season available into June at nearby Whistler. Imagine skiing in the morning and then spending the afternoon basking in the sunshine at an outdoor patio in downtown Vancouver!
Spring in Vancouver is definitely not to be missed!
Lesley is a Canadian travel blogger specializing in mid-life travel. She loves Europe and great cups of tea. Her next adventure is always just around the corner.
See the world’s highest organic tea plantation in Munnar
Munnar is one of the most popular spring getaway spots located in the Idukki district of the South Indian state of Kerala. Standing at an elevation of 5026.247 feet above sea level, Munnar is bright and sunny during the daytime and cool and chilly by sunset. Studded by tea plantations, every bit of Munnar is worth exploring during the months of April-May, before the onset of the monsoons.
The Madupetty Dam with its glimmering green waters is a great place to enjoy calm and relaxing boat rides. To catch a panoramic view of the Western Ghats, the Top Station peak is a good choice. At an elevation of above 1700 m, Top Station is the highest point in Munnar. Many travel agencies provide camping and trekking activities at Top Station and it is a great way to experience a chilly morning of Munnar! Situated at a scenic lake bank is the Echo Point. As the name suggests, whatever you say will return to you as an echo!
Situated at 35 km from Munnar is the beautiful Kolukkumalai, which is also famous for having the world’s highest organic tea plantation at 7,090 feet above sea level. The high altitude is said to give the tea a very unique flavor. Kolukkumalai is also the best place to witness the Neelakurinji flower, which blooms only once in 12 years! The roads being rough, the only way to reach the top is with the Jeep safari. Make an early trip to witness the famous Kolukkumalai Sunrise and a small trek inside the estate will take you to the peak. This is an amazing experience since after a point, you will be standing above a blanket of clouds and fog. It is truly a cloud nine moment!
Munnar is a family friendly destination and a great way to beat the heat and enjoy some good interaction with nature.