If you are planning a trip to Ireland, you’ll find many family-friendly and historic sites. Its largest city and capital, Dublin, is packed with places that you’ll remember for a lifetime. We could go on forever, but here are four beautiful, historic places you should visit in Dublin:
- Trinity College and library - Here, you can view the busts of great literary figures and the Book of Kells, which is the first four books of the New Testament in Latin, always on display. The campus itself is beautifully landscaped and fills visitors with inspiration as Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett once walked the grounds as students.
- Guinness Storehouse – Perhaps one of the most popular tourist sites, this place is a Mecca for the beloved Guinness beer that is loved world wide. This property was originally built in 1908, but has been renovated so many times, the factory has a more modern feel. Be sure to head up to the roof and enjoy a cold one overlooking the beautiful landscape
- Newgrange - The best day of the year to visit this ancient site is on December 21, the shortest day of the year. This 5,000 year old passage tomb and ancient temple will actually become stricken with what appears to be a laser beam of light as the sun rises and sends light through the center of the tomb. (The guest center shows a video of this event if you don’t make it on that particular day!)
- St. Michan’s Church – This Protestant church, located in North City, is home to many revolutionary leaders’ tombs that fought in the Crusades. The oldest body buried there is over 800 years old! While the feel might be eerie to some, this beautiful old building tells stories through its architecture and the brilliant organ will take any visitor’s breath away.
If you are planning a trip to Europe and want to forego the typical “touristy” things to do, check out these villages that are off the beaten path. Then, be sure you find a cheap hotel deal that will get you there the most affordable way. Enjoy this list of the 25 Secret European Villages: Taken from Travel + Leisure: http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/25-secret-european-villages-2010/1
The Viale dei Cipressi, a three-mile road flanked by 2,540 cypress trees (the only vegetation local buffalo don’t eat), leads straight into Bolgheri, which is set amid the vineyards of southern Tuscany’s Maremma. There’s more to this village than just the dramatic arrival, however.
Germany: Staufen im Breisgau
This enclave on the edge of the Black Forest, in southern Germany, is the ideal destination for a wine weekend. From Strasbourg, you’ll pass hills covered with terraced vineyards; the statue of a fat, naked Bacchus signals that you’ve arrived at the tiny downtown.
Lavenham, in Suffolk, may just be the prettiest town in England. It boasts more than 300 heritage houses and its high street is lined with the kind of bric-a-brac shops and teahouses (serving scones and clotted cream) that are on the endangered list throughout rural England—and all but extinct in glossier reaches, such as the Cotswolds and West Dorset.
The train from Edinburgh stops at a Victorian station next to a riot of neatly planted flowers in a hidden glen in the shadow of a medieval castle. Aberdour is not car-friendly, but why should it be when anything you would want to see is in town and connected by well-kept walkways?
In this eastern Umbrian citadel, artisanal culinary traditions endure. Pecorino cheese is aged for two years, trained dogs sniff out black truffles in the woodlands, and honey is sourced from the red wildflowers that bloom in the plains.
No blackberries could taste better than the ones picked along the winding lanes of Roundstone. But even the berry-averse will find reasons to love this 19th-century fishing village.
Three years ago Harry Lester (formerly chef and owner of London’s Anchor & Hope gastropub) and his partner, Ali Johnson, set their sights on France’s Auvergne and bought a thirties-era stone inn in tiny Chassignolles.
There’s no mistaking it, this tranquil spot in the Cyclades has nothing in common with neighboring Santorini: no building stands above two stories, no cruise ships pull into port, and there are no boutiques or fancy restaurants.
The charm of Ticino, the Italian-speaking canton of southern Switzerland, is the not-quite-here, not-quite-there, lost-in-time feel of the place. To fully appreciate it, drive north 35 miles from the popular lake resort towns of Ascona and Locarno and find the turnoff for Giornico, a stone relic of 14th-century Europe hiding off the main road.
Were it not for San Sebastián, just 15 miles away, this Basque harborside village might have become Spain’s Next Great Getaway. Instead, the port is known solely for its seafood—baby squid and turbot pulled from the Bay of Biscay and then grilled a la plancha.
There are dramatic mountainside forts, and then there is Marvão, the king of them all. Located in the southeastern Alentejo region of Portugal, this town is centered around a Moorish castle that was Christianized in the 13th century.
The Netherlands: Terschelling
Though just 85-odd miles from Amsterdam and northeast of Vlieland (nicknamed “Vli-biza” by Amsterdammers), the 18-mile-long island of Terschelling remains a haven for travelers craving tranquil stretches of sand in lieu of the thumping beach clubs on the mainland.
Riding the train from Copenhagen to Tisvildeleje is like taking an 80-minute tour of every corner of Denmark—past suburbs, verdant countryside, and forested woodlands. The journey is well worth it: on the shore of the Kattegat Strait is a quiet seaside village with thatched-roof cottages along sand dunes beside the sea.
Though there’s plenty of natural beauty in Arild, a fishing village on a peninsula in southwest Sweden, the town’s most notable site is actually man-made. In 1980 the artist Lars Vilks began nailing together driftwood and lumber in a cove at the bottom of a hillside; he even declared the place an independent country called Ladonia.
While the remnants of the fishing sheds built by Hellnar’s 11th-century settlers may suggest that this town hasn’t changed since the Vikings arrived, it is, in some ways, the most contemporary village in Iceland. The handful of residents—all of them small-boat fishermen—share a serious commitment to preserving the environment.
Czech Republic: Slavonice
During 41 years of Communist rule, Slavonice, halfway between Prague and Vienna, was too close to the Iron Curtain for the government’s comfort. But since the Velvet Revolution in 1989, this off-the-radar hamlet—composed of two town squares and burgher houses painted with Renaissance-era graffiti of biblical scenes—has attracted painters and potters from Prague looking for refuge.
England: St. Mawes
As fishing villages go, the whitewashed cottages and tidy tearooms of St. Mawes, in southern Cornwall, feel like a stage set. In this quiet backwater, fishermen sell their catch on a quay, and in the evenings, you will find them drinking Cornish-brewed Betty Stogs ale while playing snooker at the St. Mawes Billiards & Social Club.
The Périgord, in the Dordogne, is home to two of France’s most coveted delicacies: foie gras and truffles. On market days in the tiny village of St.-Geniès, two hours east of Bordeaux, shoppers tote wicker baskets to the town square, where apron-clad vendors hawk pommes salardaises (potatoes sautéed in duck fat and garlic) and saucissons rolled in herbs. It was here that owner Pierre Chaminade transformed a crumbling castle into a four-room chambres d’hôtes and restaurant and hired a chef who trained under Alain Ducasse.
If you’ve heard murmurs that the jagged mountains and white-sand beaches of the Mani region are worth the trip from Athens, you’re not alone. Starwood is about to finish the new 765-room Costa Navarino resort (it opens this May) and has committed to operating an observatory and tourism office dedicated to sustaining the village’s community and seafront.
Spain’s Baix Empordà region is chock-ful of authentic towns, but local foodies have a favorite destination: Ullastret, home to El Fort, a restaurant and hotel run by Lola Puig and her husband, Ferran Frigola. They have transformed the homey restaurant Puig’s parents ran for many years into a Slow Food temple.
Austria: Hall in Tirol
Take a 10-minute commuter train from Innsbruck straight into what feels like the Middle Ages. Hall in Tirol, established in 1303, has remained unusually intact thanks to the medieval embankment and the area’s wealth from salt mining and minting.
In this Estonian island hamlet—once a Swedish feudal territory—the local trades of fishing and shepherding have left the surrounding wilds untouched by large-scale agricultural development.
When Russian oligarchs head to the country, they go to Plios, on the banks of the Volga. Since 1999 Alexey Shevtsov, a tycoon turned hotelier, and his wife, Natalia, have been converting the town’s provincial buildings into dacha-style guesthouses.
This Saxon village got a lucky break when it became the beneficiary of the Mihai Eminescu Trust, a nonprofit overseen by Prince Charles that’s devoted to protecting the heritage of Transylvania’s country towns.
In the fall, a mist settles into the hills surrounding the bay of Kotor, so thick you can hardly see the blood-orange trees in front of you. That hasn’t stopped the tide of wealthy Europeans: British expats are selling real estate, Russians are buying farmhouses in the hills, and the dark-haired, green-eyed people of the black mountains (how Montenegro gets its name) have opened restaurants to introduce visitors to the tastes of Montenegrin stewed meat.
Posted in Sweden on 30. Mar, 2010
Front side of one of the Nobel Prize medals in Physiology or Medicine.
One of the most prestigious awards ever given is the Nobel Prize, awarded each year. Even children in school learn about the some of the most brilliant men and women in history who make significant strides in medicine, physics, chemistry, literature, economics, and peace.
A great way to connect children to history is to give them hands-on exhibits that walks them through information in an interactive way. What better place to do that than The Nobel Museum in Stockholm?
According to the site, the museum offers The Bubble Chamber for children, which celebrates people who are “bubbling with ideas.” Here, children of all ages (but geared more towards ages 3-11) can learn about the Nobel Prize winners and about Alfred Nobel, the founder of the Nobel Prize. Short movies, books, hands-on activities and play theatres await all eager learners.
In addition to The Bubble Chamber, children of all ages can participate in a Nobel trivia/scavenger hunt, where they will have to seek the answers to questions about the Prize that are found throughout the museum.
With tours in English and Swedish, everyone can enjoy the benefits of learning about Nobel Prize winners on their vacation to Stockholm. If you or any of your friends are planning a trip to Sweden, make sure you stop by and take a walk through history for some of the most innovative thinkers in our history.
Bullfighting is a age-old tradition with Roman roots, but has extended its influence throughout Spain, Portugal, southern France and Latin American countries.
One neat place you can learn about the history of bullfighting, in addition to appreciating original fine arts, libraries and artifacts is The Real Maestranza de Caballeria de Ronda (Royal School of Cavalry) located in Ronda, Spain.
This school was created in response to Phillip II, who wanted to ensure the abilities of his military. The museum hosts exhibits of art and ancient fire arms from many different eras and countries. The fire arms cover a period of four centuries and were used for tasks ranging from hunting to sport to dueling.
True to it’s history, the Real Maestranza de Caballeria de Ronda is still an operational riding school, teaching students classical equestrianism. The school also has meeting rooms for executive meetings, and also provides educational and arts activities including prize and grants to university students, hosting Ronda Music Week and publishing educuational books.
If you are traveling to or near Ronda, you should definitely plan a trip to the Real Maestranza de Caballeria de Ronda and get a dose of culture. You won’t be disappointed!
Have you ever seen 300 trees under one roof? We’re not talking about an indoor forest here, but a showcase of miniature bonsai trees. Take a trip to Marbella, Spain and you’ll see what we’re talking about.
Here, at The Bonsai Museum, there are over 40 different species of these miniature trees, and it is hailed as one of the best collections of trees in Europe and even all over the world. This is probably because the trees reflect the nature in the region, as well as some bonsais that are actually in extinction in their natural habitat.
The atmosphere is tranquil and invigorating, displaying various species of bonsai trees floating on rafts in water containing various animals such as turtles and fish.
Some of the trees there are over 300 years old (The Acebuche Olive). One tree, known as the Chinese “Almez,” was in the same Chinese family for five generations.
If you are vacationing in or close to Marbella, it is worth the trip to this great, family-friendly museum. Adults can get in for €3 and children’s admission is €1.5.
Sleigh bells ring… are you listening? In the lane, snow is glistening…
Are you looking for place to walk in a winter wonderland?
Vila Natal in Obidos, Portugal is right up your alley. From November 28 this year till January 3, Vila Natal (translated “Christmas Town”) lights up the beautiful town of Obidos with ice skating rinks, a carousel, small trains, Christmas workshops and Father Christmas himself: Santa Claus.
This event is fun for kids all ages, featuring a musical, plays and a magic show. Also, hop on a sled and challenge someone to a sledging race downhill. If you’re feeling brave, there’s always the ice skating rink where you can prove your agility and balance.
Check out the Web site for more information on this fun Christmas festival. The times aren’t listed for next Christmas, but if you are in the area, check into a hotel and spend some time there! You can’t visit this place and not be in the Christmas mood. Here’s to Christmas cheer and a Happy New Year!