Dublin, Lisbon, Rome – where will your next citybreak be?

When spring arrives with sunshine and daffodils, it always puts me in the mood for planning my next getaway, a mini-break to throw off the chill of winter and tide me over until the summer holidays. If you’re in the mood for a weekend away in Europe or the UK, take a look at the fun web app from SuperBreak to fuel your holiday inspiration. Whether you’re planning a relaxing half term break with the family, a weekend of eating and entertainment with your friends, or a cultural city-break with your partner, here are some of the destinations that you might want to consider;

If you’re a couple looking for a weekend of food, drink and entertainment you might look at….

Dublin

Dublin at night Photo by Lendog64 on Flickr

Dublin at night, the ultimate party town

What Superbreak have to say; Just a quick jump across the water and you can enjoy traditional Bars, comedy clubs, delicious local food and the ever-so-friendly Irish welcome! Guinness at the ready!

What I enjoyed about Dublin;

  • I love the way that the Irish always have a story to tell, that you can go into any pub and strike up a conversation with a complete stranger and there’s always some music and a song or two.
  • Visit the Guinness Storehouse in an amazing 7 storey old warehouse with modern glass additions to learn about Dublin’s favourite tipple – you’ll be shown how to pull the perfect pint of the black stuff and can buy up the brand’s heritage (love the retro toucans).
  • Take the train out to Sandy Cove, a seaside spot where the members of the 40 foot swimming club test the water every day of the year and where James Joyce lived in an old Martello tower and liked to take a dip.

Here’s what I wrote about Dublin: The best of TBEX, the best of Dublin

But if you and your partner are looking for a weekend of culture in Europe, why not try…

Rome

The Trevi Fountain in Rome Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Throw your coin in the Trevi Fountain in Rome to return some day

What Superbreak have to say; With a wealth of history, culture and plenty of Italian charisma, you can’t help but feel the love on a weekend break in Rome with someone special.

What I enjoyed about Rome;

  • Buying a gelato from the kiosk shop on the island in the Tiber and eating it with a view of the river where Dan Brown’s hero, in the book Angels and Demons, parachutes out of an exploding helicopter to land on the island.
  • Visiting the Turtle fountain or Fontana delle Tartarughe in Piazza Mattei first thing in the morning before the crowds have gathered – so much more charming and less crowded than the Trevi Fountain.
  • Visiting the daily fruit and vegetable market in Campo de’Fiori and buying a slice of pizza fresh from the oven from the artizan bakery at one end, then sitting on the steps of the central monument to eat it.

Here’s one of my stories about Rome: The view from the dome of St Peter’s in Rome

If you are a couple who fancy a weekend of culture in the UK take a look at …

Stratford-upon-Avon

The river at Stratford-upon-Avon Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Picnic by the river at Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of Shakespeare

What Superbreak have to say; Discover the quaint city of Stratford upon Avon on a romantic weekend break. Step back in time in this historic city and see the spots where Shakespeare’s most famous plays were created.

What I love to do in Stratford-upon-Avon;

  • Visit the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, a fabulous venue that has gone through a multi-million pound renovation. You must try and get a ticket to see one of their Shakespeare productions but even if you can’t, be sure to pop in to wander round the building, visit one of the exhibitions, climb the tower or take a backstage tour.
  • Taking afternoon tea at the Arden Hotel right opposite the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, the perfect place for a lunch stop in between sightseeing or a pre-theatre dinner before you pop across the road for the performance.
  • Several of the houses in and around Stratford associated with Shakespeare and his family are open to the public, and we we especially love Anne Hathaway’s Cottage with its cottage garden and the settle by the fire where young William might have snuggled with his new bride Anne.

Here’s what I wrote about Stratford-upon-Avon: The Tower and other Transformations at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon

But if you are a group who’d like a weekend of culture in Europe why not try …

Paris

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Visit the great Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

What Superbreak have to say; With history, landmarks and iconic French architecture around every corner, Paris offers everything a group would need for a cultural break. Don’t forget your camera!

What I enjoyed about Paris;

  • Wandering around the Parisian’s choice of market, Marche d’Aligre with the most polished and perfect fruit and vegetables, a mouthwatering selection of prepared dishes in the covered market and a flea market where you can buy everything from vintage footwear to elegant wine glasses.
  • Walking down Canal Saint Martin to admire all the houseboats and then continuing along the narrow footpath right beside the Seine, with views of Notre Dame in the distance – a world away from the tourist crowds at the cathedral itself.
  • Exploring the covered arcades with art galleries and street cafes in Place des Vosges and then visiting Maison Victor Hugo to find out about the life and times of this celebrated French writer, author of Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Here’s what I wrote about Paris: Our winter weekend in Paris, the food, the sights, the video

And if and your friends are looking for a weekend of culture in Europe, why not try…

Lisbon

The vintage trams in Lisbon Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Ride the vintage trams in Lisbon up the hill

What Superbreak have to say; A weekend break in Lisbon, Portugal’s capital offers an eclectic mix of fascinating Portuguese history and contemporary art and culture.

What I loved about Lisbon;

  • Listening to the mournful Fado singers who perform in the restaurants in the Bairo Alto and Alfama neighbourhoods – don’t expect the food to be anything special but the music will touch your soul.
  • Eating Pasteis de Belem from the famous cakes shop near the Monastery of Jerónimos - these creamy custard tarts are the signature of Lisbon and you can either sit in the vaulted cafe rooms at the back of the shop or take them away to eat in the gardens overlooking the port.
  • Taking the yellow, vintage No 28 tram up the hill to the Castelo de Sao Jorge where you can walk around the ramparts and gaze over the rooftops towards the river where the ships left to conquer the New World centuries ago.

Here’s one of my stories about Lisbon: An autumn weekend in Lisbon – Podcast

There are plenty more inspirational short break destinations to discover with the SuperBreak app so why not give it a try and see where your inspiration leads you.

About the Superbreak Holiday Inspirator:  To celebrate their 30th anniversary, Yorkshire based holiday company  Superbreak.com have created a fun app to help you choose the perfect UK or European city break based on who you’re travelling with and what you enjoy. Check out the Superbreak Holiday Inspirator Webapp or follow the coversation on the Superbreak Facebook Page or on Twitter @Superbreak using hashtag #SuperBreakinspo

This article is brought to you in partnership with Superbreak.com

Photo Credits: Dublin at night by LenDog64 Other photos by Heatheronhertravels.com

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com - Read the original article here

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A Walk Through the Historic Centre of Rome

In this article, our guest author Angelina takes us on a walk through her favourite sights in Rome, where every street and every building tell the story of Rome’s past history.

Since I was in my childhood years, it has been my dream to visit the eternal city. I was a big fan of the television series “Hercules” and was fascinated with the rich historical structures and breathtaking masterpieces that can be seen in Rome. My interest in Rome even escalated when I was in college where I studied about the ancient Italian history. Fortunately, when I got married, I was given the chance to travel with my husband Patrick and my two kids.

Rome is my family’s favorite holiday destination and my favorite topic to write about as well. Our first walk through the historic center of Rome was the most memorable and enjoyable trip I ever had. Rome is a perfect place to be, for people who love history, art and culture. Every architectural structure, street, building and ruins speak of the rich Roman history and culture; no wonder Rome is said to be the eternal city.

The Colisseum in Rome Photo: Romesightseeing.net

The Colisseum in Rome

The Colosseum

The most remarkable sightseeing spot I have been during my first tour around the heart of Rome is the Colosseum, known to be the great Amphitheatrum Flavium of antiquity. It is considered as Rome’s ultimate symbol that is situated at the center of the city. This great amphitheater was inaugurated during the height of the Roman Empire in 80 AD. The Colosseum is the largest architectural structure ever built in Rome and could accommodate as much as 50,000 people at a time. It was originally built for entertainment purposes but later on it was used for battles and exhibition games.

The inside of the Colisseum in Rome Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The inside of the Colisseum in Rome

It is in the Colosseum where ancient Roman gladiators used to fight against their fellow gladiators and against animals. I could still hear the cheers of the spectators who are betting for their chosen gladiators and the scream of the warriors in pain who are fighting for their lives. I could still imagine thousands of men and animals lying down the arena bathing with their own blood. Below the ground of the Colosseum you can see a maze-like structure of cells and chambers where gladiators and beasts were billeted and readied for their fight in the arena.

In front of the Forum in Rome Photo: Romesightseeing.net

In front of the Forum in Rome

The Roman Forum

Just a few steps from the Colosseum is the Roman Forum. During ancient times, Roman Forum was used for hosting local celebrations and festivals. It was also used for rituals and funerals of known personalities in Rome. The Roman Forum used to be the epicenter of the city life and the politics in Rome. It can be seen at Via dei Fori Imperiali.

A view of the Forum in Rome Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

A view of the Forum in Rome

The Spanish Steps

Take a short walk from the Roman Forum and you will find the famous Scalla di Spagna, better known as The Spanish Steps. It is the widest and the longest in Europe and climbing up to the peak of the Scalla di Spagna took us 138 looping steps. It was quite tedious but the scene from the top of the Spanish Steps was more than worthy of the sweat and patience that we invested in such climbing activity. The Spanish Steps joins two of the most mesmerizing squares in the eternal city; the Piazza di Spagna and the Piazza Trinita dei Monti.

Nightime at the Spanish steps in Rome Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Nightime at the Spanish steps in Rome

Who could ever afford to miss visiting the Vatican City in Rome? The Vatican is a state within a state. It is a landlocked city that is known as the official residence of the highest Roman Catholic authority, the Pope. Vatican is known to be the center of Roman Catholic and the smallest independent state of the world.

St Peter's Basilica in Rome Photo: Romesightseeing.net

St Peter’s Basilica in Rome

 St. Peter’s Basilica

We were also given the chance to tour around the intricately designed churches in the Vatican. We had visited the St. Peter’s Basilica, which is considered the mother of all the churches in Rome and the center of Christianity and walked on to the Sistine Chapel. Seeing the complex and breathtaking paintings of Michelangelo on the ceilings of the chapel was the experience of a lifetime. It was fascinating and seemed close to impossibility how such a master as Michelangelo made the best painting in the world.

The Trevi Fountain in Rome Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Trevi Fountain in Rome

Among the highlights of our tour was a visit to the Trevi Fountain. This is just one among the attractive fountains found in Rome, a theatrical masterpiece built in Baroque style. The Trevi fountain is simply majestic and no matter what time of the day, you will truly enjoy visiting this spot. Before we went on, we tossed a coin into the fountain to guarantee good luck and to be sure to come back to visit to Rome in the future.

Bio photoMany thanks for this article to Angelina, a 29 year old mother of two, and the owner of romesightseeing.net. Angelina loves to travel together with her husband Patrick and their kids to their favorite holiday destinations of Rome and Paris.

For more Roman holiday ideas:

Chiesa Santa Maria in Trastevere – in Rome
The Rome of childhood memories
Cakes from Pasticceria Saliola – in Rome

This article by Angelina is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com - Read the original article here

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You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

Mountain landscapes from the Tour de Mont Blanc – Nature Photographer of the Year Competition

The breathtaking mountain landscapes of the Alps have drawn travellers, walkers and climbers since Monsieur Saussaure arrived in Chamonix in 1760 to make a botanical study of the area and offered a reward for the first man to scale Mont Blanc. I’ve been lucky enough to experience these mountain peaks and even get close to the top of them during my walks on the Tour de Mont Blanc, so I’m taking advantage of the Nature Photographer of the Year competition, being run by Sanctuary Retreats to share some of my photos with you from these trips.

Below is the photo of Lac Blanc I chose to enter into the competition – if you’re feeling kind you might like to go and vote for my entry here . But because one photo is never enough to tell the story of my walk through the Alps, I’ve included a few more for your enjoyment, together with the story behind each photo.

Lac Blanc is a milky blue glacial lake that sits high above the Chamonix Valley and while we reached it on our Tour de Mont Blanc Walk, it also makes an ideal day walk up from the valley. Most walkers miss out the hard work on the lower slopes and take the cable car up to Flegere, from where a couple of hours walking will bring you up to Lac Blanc, passing small pools on the way to reach this large, milky blue glacial lake that’s backed by mountains. Surprisingly for a place so remote, there’s a very nice mountain refuge there where you can stay the night, although we just had a coffee on the terrace with a slice of Tarte aux Mytilles that still remains in my memory. Read more about our walk to Lac Blanc.

Lac Blanc above the Chamonix Valley Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Lac Blanc above the Chamonix Valley, a milky blue glacial lake

The very first day on the first year that we walked part of the Tour de Mont Blanc we ended up at Refuge Bellechat sitting on the crest above the Chamonix Valley. Looking back, the walk up from Les Houches seems pretty tame but at the time it seemed like the longest uphill walk in the world. Waking up the next morning, we took our cafe au lait out onto the terrace and took in the glorious views of Mont Blanc – we were hooked!

View from the terrace of Refuge Bellechat above Chamonix Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

View from the terrace of Refuge Bellechat above Chamonix

Chamonix is a town that we got to know pretty well, as it was often the start or end of our walk. On our first year we took the small mountain railway ‘Chemin de fer du Montenvers’ up to the Mer de Glace which was my first experience of getting close up to a glacier. Part of me was slightly disappointed that the glacier looked so grubby and grey with all the morraine that it carries along with it as it grinds through the valley. Every year they carve an ice cave into the glacier which you can walk into and admire the coloured lights and ice sculptures – pretty cool.

The Mer de Glace glacier above Chamonix Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Mer de Glace glacier above Chamonix

Champex Lac was where we ended one year and started again the next and this high altitude lakeside village makes a great base if you’d like to do some day walks around the area. There’s a path that runs right around the lake which only takes about 30 minutes to walk and if you do, you’ll get this same view of the lake reflecting like a mirror the wooded slopes and peaks in the distance.

Champex Lac in Switzerland Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Champex Lac in Switzerland – the lake is a mirror for the landscape

One of the nicest mountain refuges we stayed at on our Tour de Mont Blanc circuit was Rifugio Bonatti, on the Italian side, named for the famous Italian climber Walter Bonatti. After dinner we went outside on the terrace to watch as the setting sun bathed the peak of Mont Blanc in the distance, turning it white and gold, until the sun slipped behind the mountain and it was if someone had suddenly switched off the light.

Sunset over Mont Blanc seen from Rifugio Bonatti on the Italian side Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Sunset over Mont Blanc seen from Rifugio Bonatti on the Italian side

In the Alps, when the sun’s shining and the sky is blue, it’s the mountain peaks that are the showstoppers in the landscape. However as you walk hour after hour (with more and more frequent stops if you’re me) your eye becomes tuned in to the more subtle beauty of the alpine flowers beside the path. In September there weren’t so many of them, so when I spotted a spot of colour I would take the time to capture it in a photo. Growing on the meagre soil of the Alps there is nothing showy about these plants, they take their chance and snatch their time in the sun ….

Alpine Flowers on the Tour de Mont Blanc Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Alpine Flowers on the Tour de Mont Blanc

… I don’t know what these plants were called but they made a soft, fluffy cotton ball in the meadow. There must have been something that suited them in the soil as there were whole swathes of them across the hillside …

Cotton Flowers on the Tour de Mont Blanc Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Cotton Flowers on the Tour de Mont Blanc

… and here are the pretty purple flowers that we saw growing everywhere in the autumn. In this case they frame the view back towards Courmayeur down in the valley from where we climbed up at the start of this year’s walk.

View toward Courmayeur on the Tour de Mont Blanc Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

View toward Courmayeur on the Tour de Mont Blanc

What is a beautiful landscape if you have no time to sit and enjoy it? This was one of the reasons that my friend Julia and I decided to take the Tour de Mont Blanc in stages, walking for 3 or 4 days each year, rather than trying to complete it in one exhausting circuit of 12 days. We also planned the distances carefully for each day so that we didn’t have to walk for more than about 6 hours, leaving us time to have a leisurely lunch, take lots of photos (in my case) or just stop to admire the view. The picture below is one of my favourite from the whole trip, taken at the top of the high pass of Grand Col Ferret that forms the border between Switzerland and Italy. While I was busy taking photos, Julia was just soaking up the sun and mountain scenery, storing it away as a memory to bring out on dull days back in Bristol.

Julia soaks in the landscape at Grand Col Ferret Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Julia soaks in the landscape at Grand Col Ferret

The counterpart of Grand Col Ferret is the high pass of Col de la Seigne which at over 2500m takes you from Italy into France and gives another fantastic viewpoint down the valley. The rock cairn marks the perfect point to sit and admire the view back from the route that we’d just climbed up from Rifugio Elizabetta. I learned later that this area had been the scene of fighting between the Alpiniste troops on the Italian and French sides during the Second World War, while now we can walk from one country to the next with not even a border post.

Col de la Seigne on the Tour de Mont Blanc Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Col de la Seigne on the Tour de Mont Blanc

I hope you’ve enjoyed my tour of the mountain landscapes on the Tour de Mont Blanc. If you have some wonderful landscape or wildlife photos to share, you may like to enter the Nature Photographer of the Year Facebook Competition and you could win a Go-Pro Hero3 White edition camera - you can enter here . If you’re keen on wildlife, do take a look at the Sanctuary Retreats Galapagos Page for inspiration – a destination that I’d love to visit.

Once again I thank you for your vote .

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com - Read the original article here

You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

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