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Category Archives:Europe

5 Days in Paris, a Highlights Tour On an Epic Budget

Palais du Luxembourg Paris France header

It’s not often that you get to sit at the foot of the Eiffel Tower and watch the sunset. When I started this journal entry in March 2010, that’s where I was. I arrived in the middle of the Champs de Mars at dusk, and before long, the whole structure just lit up.

I sat there in awe for quite some time and it took about 10 minutes for it to become real to me that I was really in Paris, looking at the Eiffel Tower. This was something I’d looked forward to seeing for a long time.

Eiffel Tower at Night

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10 ways to get off the beaten track

There is an ever-present, yet largely unspoken discussion that goes on with travellers. It’s the traveller vs. tourist mentality where a tourist is there to tick a box, read the guide book and follow other tourists, and the traveller is more up for adventurous, serendipitous experiences.

While these two types of people definitely exist, I think it’s a little pretentious to think one is better than the other (and I’m definitely talking to past me in this instance). Different people are just up for different types of experiences. Regardless, if you want to get away from the crowds and create your own unique experiences, let these ideas inspire your creativity. Continue Reading

Walking Tours of a White Copenhagen – a photo essay

When visiting a new city alone your only friend is a map. Though a map is not great at conversation. I learnt this the embarrassing way. There are plenty of sights to see in Copenhagen in winter, which could be comfortably seen in 3 or 4 days.

But I learnt that when you have no one to bounce ideas off, or tell you when breaks are needed, you will just seem to walk all day, see everything at double speed, then be absolutely rooted by 6pm.

I ended up in Copenhagen because I had just began my semester abroad in Leeds and planned to see as much of Europe as possible in the process. After getting settled I distinctly remember saying  to my housemate who had come over from Australia within the first few days: “So, where do you want to go this weekend?”

Frederiks Church Copenhagen, Denmark
Frederiks Church

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11 Extreme examples of Expensive European Architecture

Crazy King Ludwig spent millions on a castle that he never saw finished.

It seemed like a requirement that the Hofburgs of Austria needed to one-up their ancestors when building their residence.

And the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is still being built to this day, 132 years after its inception.

I visited a lot of incredible buildings in Europe and their beauty is only matched by the amount of money these would have cost. I am not going to speculate on how much, but I’ve collated some of my favourite palaces, churches and castles that have made the shift from active use to tourist attraction.

York Minster, York

Half an hour train ride from where I used to live, in a town of only 200,000 is a marvellous example of Gothic architecture and was one of the biggest I saw across Europe. So large it was difficult to fit the whole thing in one frame due to surrounding buildings.

York Minster Abbey

Sacre Coeur, Paris

Located just out of central Paris in Montmarte is the imposing figure of the Sacre Coeur, named after the “Sacred Heart” of Jesus Christ. An exquisite church made all the more so by the imposing location up on the hill.

Sacre Ceour Paris

Il Vittoriano, Rome

Also known as the Altare Della Patrio, or in English the “Alter of the Fatherland”, the Vittoriano is a mighty building. Maybe it’s the symmetry, maybe it’s that it’s so dominant and looks down on you, but the Vittoriano was actually a standout attraction of Rome for me. Just a beautiful building

Altare Della Patrio, Il Vittoriano

Buckingham Palace, London

Home to one of the wealthiest families in the world, the House of Windsor, Buckingham Palace attracts thousands of visitors every day just to watch their guards change shift. One of the few in this list that is still a residence and not a memorial or museum.

Buckingham Palace London

St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin

In stark contrast to some cathedrals in Europe, St Patrick’s in Dublin is built on acres of space. It’s a beautiful spot within the city limits to wander the grounds or just have a rest by the fountain with a great view of the bell tower.

St Patrick's Cathedral Dublin

San Marco Basilica, Venice

In unusually tight quarters, St Mark’s Basilica stands out like nothing else. A different perspective to what you might usually see is gained up the nearby tower. Imagine having this on your doorstep?!

San Marco Venice

St Vitus Cathedral, Prague

Now if you want to talk about Cathedrals in areas so built up it’s almost impossible to fit in the entire structure into a frame, let’s talk about St Vitus Cathedral – the climax of any Prague Castle Tour. I am standing in the absolute corner of the courtyard and can only just fit it in the frame.

Prague Castle

See.. from the front, this is as much of the front facade I could fit.

St Vitus Cathedral Prague Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria

Probably the most expensive holiday home in the world, King Ludwig II of Bavaria didn’t even live to see his dream completed. If you notice any similarities to Cinderella’s Castle in Disneyland, that’s because Neuschwanstein was the inspiration for Walt Disney.

Neuschwanstein Castle Bavaria

Berliner Dom, Berlin

If my church’s name was Evangelical Supreme Parish and Collegiate Church in Berlin – I’d probably shorten it to something easy like Berliner Dom as well.

Berliner Dom, Berlin

Brussels Town Hall

The Town Hall of Brussels is a stand out of the impressive Grand Place, the centrepiece of Brussels city centre, and a location you won’t be content with seeing just once.

Brussels Town Hall

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

I couldn’t write a post on Beautiful European Architecture without including my absolute favourite, the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. I think I love this one so much because when I visited after 6 months of seeing Gothic and Renaissance cathedrals throughout Europe – as impressive as they are – I was ready for something a little more unique.

Gaudi was an artistic and architectural genius and the Sagrada Familia is just one place through the city that has his fingerprints. And after 133 years since ground was broken, it was only consecrated only in 2010 and is still being completed!

Sagrada Familia Barcelona

Now obviously I’ve left plenty out, these are just a few of my personal favourites. Which historic building across Europe has stolen your heart? Did it make this list? Let me know in the comments below.


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