Category Archives: Europe

Dubrovnik in the Mediterranean

Mediterranean history: reading between the waves

Setting off on a cruise around the Med might seem like the perfect excuse to surrender your mind to complete vegetation for a few weeks, but it’s becoming increasingly popular for holidaymakers to seek something more meaningful from their vacation.

Dubrovnik in the Mediterranean - Image by Mario Fajt, used under the Creative Commons license.

Stretching from the Iberian Peninsula, along the southern coastline of continental Europe to the north of Africa, the Mediterranean Sea traverses three continents, and Mediterranean cruises can offer some unique opportunities to learn about our world’s history from some of its most ancient destinations. Take note of these educational places best visited from the sea.

Istanbul

A city spanning two continents, this cultural capital comprises an entirely unique cityscape of bathhouses and minarets, domes and spires. The Blue Mosque, the Agia Sofia and the Basilica Cistern are historic highlights no traveler should miss ticking off their itinerary before re-embarking. Istanbul’s beautiful hybrid of styles demonstrates a historic diversity which is unrivaled.

 Dubrovnik

This Dalmatian Coast delight boasts the best preserved medieval walls in the world, and an old town which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While its city walls bustle with cruise day-trippers, it’s easy to understand why; walking the two kilometers of stone fortifications is an edifying experience.

Tunis

With bustling medinas and French colonial architecture, Tunis is a city that wears its history scrawled across its skyline. Visit the Roman mosaics in the Bardo museum, then strike out for the ancient civilization of Carthage, one of the world’s most impressive archaeological sites, and the former heart of the Carthaginian empire.

Rome

No cultural odyssey would be complete without the inclusion of majestic Rome, a city guarding ancient treasures like the Colosseum, the Pantheon and the Baths of Diocletian under the guise of a modern metropolis. A number of cruise lines port at Civitavecchia, from which you can explore the city sights. Rome is hilly, so stay cool on your excursions with an old trick; fill your water bottle from one of the many historic drinking fountains in the city which dispense cool water carried directly by aqueduct.

The Mediterranean is one of the world’s most ancient beds of civilization, and so much can be learned about the world from setting off on a cruise around this historic and cultural haven.

With the breadth of countries to discover, the scope of cultures to explore, and the provenance of its destinations, choosing to cruise the Med proves history can be a literal voyage of discovery.

Author bio: Anissa Suliman is a vacation enthusiastic who makes a living managing a busy office to feed her passion! She also loves to cook Italian food and never visits a new country without her running trainers.

 

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Charming Aromas: Exploring Vienna’s Coffee Culture

There’s nothing like a good cup of coffee. But almost more important than the actual latte, cappuccino or drip is where you are when you’re drinking it. The charming Viennese coffeehouse culture places the city’s cafés on the must-see list while you’re on a weekend break in Vienna. For a different perspective on Austria’s capital — plus some much needed caffeine for those fighting jet lag — you should consider touring them.

Back in time

Though there were a couple coffeehouses scattered across Europe already, the first coffeehouse in Vienna opened its doors in the late 1600s. Battle of Vienna hero Jerzy Franciszek Kulczycki, or Georg Franz Kolschitzky as he’s often referred to in German, reportedly started the very first Viennese coffee house in 1683, with coffee beans left by the opposition.

Coffeehouses grew in popularity and became a place for friends to meet up, intellectuals to browse the papers and writers and poets to compose. The late 19th and early 20th centuries in particular saw a rise in prominent writers choosing to work within the quaint atmosphere of Viennese cafés, with their work now known as ‘coffee house literature.’

Viennese coffeehouses became a home away from home with some — including Austrian writer and poet Peter Altenberg — even having their mail delivered there.

Coffee culture, or cultural coffee?

The Viennese coffeehouse culture today sees many of the same traditions carried out. Marble tabletops and strong coffee greet you. You’re more than welcome to sit and read, write, or play cards and there’ll never be anyone rushing you out the door. Customers are often treated to live piano music in the evening hours, giving you all the more reason to sit and make yourself comfortable.

The servers are kind; they’ll refill your glass of water but otherwise leave you alone. Grab a few postcards or a journal to write in when you’re in town — who knows, you may be the next famous face to compose their work there!

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The cafés to be

As far as where to go, there are more than a few charming, traditional Viennese cafés to choose from. Café Central, which opened its doors in 1876, is steeped in tradition. Located in Vienna’s Old Town, this café became an intellectual hub for people including Leon Trotsky, Sigmund Freud and Adolf Hitler.

Café Landtmann’s location, on the bottom floor of the neo-baroque Palais Lieben-Auspitz, makes it another coffeehouse worth seeing. Near the University, Town Hall and spectacular Burgtheater, this café is where it’s at!

Finally, Café Prückel shows off a slightly different vibe. Its 1950s design will allow you to travel back in time, to a place where a strong cup of coffee and slice of apple strudel is all that matters. An added bonus? Live piano music several nights a week.

Are you looking to see a different side of vibrant Vienna? Then why not grab a simple cup of coffee.

Image by indigotimbre, used under Creative Commons licence.

Author’s bio

Shirley Beale is a foodie and traveller. She loves cultural experiences and tries to visit a many as she can of the world’s museums.

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Three Notable Airport Hotels in the UK

A look into airport parking near hotels

These days, an increasing number of top-notch hotels have been working closely with airports to provide both parking and lodging services to a wide range of tourists. Staying in a hotel room the night before will certainly reduce the overall stress and hassle of the entire process, especially if you have an early flight. Anyway, here are just three of the many fine hotels that are conveniently located near some of the UK’s most prominent airports.

Courtyard by Marriott
First off, the Courtyard by Marriott is a 10-minute walk from Gatwick Airport’s South Terminal. Besides offering reasonably priced rates on accommodation and parking, the Courtyard by Marriott provides “Park Here, Fly There” packages. Essentially, these packages allow tourists to enjoy overnight accommodations, in addition to eight or 15 days parking. The Courtyard by Marriott’s proximity to Gatwick Airport’s South Terminal is certainly convenient for tourists who are interested in having multiple parking options. UK parking service company www.parking4less.com notes that the South Terminal offers two different Long Stay car parks – a self-parking space and a Long Stay Plus option.

Sheraton Heathrow Hotel
Less than 10 minutes from the world-renowned Heathrow Airport, the Sheraton Heathrow Hotel currently offers 426 rooms and a parking space for up to 236 cars. Additionally, the Sheraton Heathrow Hotel offers a fine selection of Hotel and Parking options. Tourists can choose from three-day, eight-day, 15-day, and 21-day Hotel and Parking packages. While all of the aforementioned packages offer one-night accommodations, the three-day package only applies to weekend arrivals; the rest of the packages involve all-week arrivals.

Holiday Inn Express
Only 600 meters from the Luton Airport in London, the Holiday Inn Express is the closest hotel to the passenger terminal. Indeed, walking between the passenger terminal and the hotel should take no more than 10 minutes. The Holiday Inn Express has a 24-hour business center that’s particularly useful for printing out boarding cards and other important documents. All of the guest rooms are triple glazed and air conditioned, while the conference rooms can fit up to 56 people. The Holiday Inn Express can also provide rollaway beds or sofa beds in a wide variety of rooms. Of course, the Holiday Inn Express offers cheap hotel and holiday parking for up to 15 days parking.