May 29, 2017

3 must-see Roman ruins in Majorca

I’m taking a little time off and thought it would be great to explore an area I have never been to, Majorca.  Below is a guest post detailing some of the great Roman ruins you can visit on your next trip!  I’ll be back next week. . .

 

Majorca is well-known for being a great place to head if you love sun, sea and sand. However, if you’re also looking for something else to keep you busy during your holiday, you’ll find plenty of options.

The Balearic Island’s rich and varied history means there are a lot of historical monuments to see here when enjoying your holidays in Majorca including ancient statues, castles, cities and Roman sites.

Scene of Mallorca Majorca Spain

Mallorca by Scouse_and_Jules, on Flickr

Here are three of our favorite Roman sights you don’t want to miss while enjoying all Majorca offers.

Pol-lentia

Pol-lentia is an ancient Roman city that has been preserved for nearly 2,000 years, making it one of the oldest places on the island and perhaps the most antique location you’ve ever been to.

Founded in 123 AD Pol-lentia thrived as a Roman municipality for many years; however, once the Roman Empire fell, it fell into ruin.

After centuries of neglect, excavation work began on the area in 1920, helping to rescue the ancient city and redeem it, almost,  to its former glory. As a result, visitors can now walk around the site learning more about the history of Majorca and the conquests that have occurred over the years.

Pollentia Mallorca Majorca Spain

Pollentia - El Teatro by Richard Alen, on Flickr

Passing by stone buildings, courtyards and cobbled paths may also help history buffs learn more about the Roman enclave and gain a greater appreciation of how this community once lived on the island.

You can also visit the 1st century Roman theatre, which is the only one that still exists in the Balearic Islands.

Santueri Castle

This is another site in Majorca that has important Roman significance, as Santueri Castle was once used as a fortified commune by the Romans.

The Castle is situated near Felanitx and was built in the 14th century. Since its creation, it has been used by different groups of people over the years including the Arabs. Its position high on a plateau means it has a great vantage point looking over the rest of the island and the sea, meaning impending threats were seen from miles away allowing the citizens ample time to defend themselves.

Near Santueri Castle Majorca Mallorca Spain

Castell de Santueri by _basquiat_, on Flickr

Visitors nowadays can walk around the castle, learn more about who used to live here, in particular the Romans, and enjoy some of these views for themselves.

Son Real

Located on the coast, the estate was bought by the Balearic government in 2002, with the aim to protect the land and preserve its historical importance for future generations.

Mallorca Cove Spain

Mallorca at its Best!

The site was an old public farmstead and is now home to a number of archaeological remains, including the Necropolis.  It is believed this cemetery dates backt o the 7th century BC!
Son Real gives you the opportunity to learn more about the different people who have lived on Majorca over hundreds of years which include cultures from all around the world.

 

What are some other not-to-miss sights in Majorca?

Bucket List – European Style

Ah, the infamous Bucket List.  When Michael from EasyHiker asked me to share my “Bucket List” I was, honestly, a little overwhelmed.  Yes, overwhelmed because my list is quite large and I’m sure you don’t want to spend that much time reading this post.  How to cut it down?  Instead of sharing countries or cities I’d most like to visit I whittled it down to some European adventures I’d most like to enjoy.

In no particular order, here is a sampling of my Bucket List – European Style!

While thinking about my Bucket List, I realized I’ve actually shared quite a few of these already.  In Springtime Yearnings I shared my desire to Hike in Black Forest, Canoe along the Dordogne plus bike and taste wine near the Moselle River in Germany.  Italy’s South Tirol is still one of the places I would most like to visit.  The Dolomites are just too dramatic and picturesque to not see in person.

Here are more European adventures I’d most like to enjoy:

Bastille Day in Paris

Sharing this day of celebration with the Parisians would be fabulous.  I can only imagine the pageantry of the military parade down the Champs Elysees and the beauty of the fireworks with the Eiffel Tower as their back drop.

Bastille Day Fireworks Eiffel Tower Paris France

Bastille Day Fireworks by Lauren

Oktoberfest

Let’s see, I love Bavaria, Munich is one of my favorite cities and, in my opinion, beer is a food group.  So why wouldn’t I need to experience the Granddaddy of all beer festivals?  One thing I wouldn’t miss is the opening day parade. I hope they still roll barrels of beer down the street!

Cruising the Greek Isles

A lot of folks cruise the Greek Isles and while I want to join their ranks, I want to rent my own sail boat so we can steer our ship around the Aegean as we wish!  Enjoying the blue water, culture, sunsets and ruins while reliving mythology from the bows of our own little boat seems quite luxurious.

Samos Greece in Aegean Sea

Samos Pe-Sa

German Christmas Markets

About 2 months ago I shared one of my fondest birthday wishes in All I Want For My Birthday.  At this point in time, I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate my birthday than being in Germany visiting some of the magical Christmas markets!  Gluhwein, German trinkets and beer. . . need I say more?

Viennese Ball

Gliding and twirling across a dance floor at one of the amazing balls during Imperial Ball season in Vienna is one of things this girl dreams of.   Of course, I’ll be dressed to the nines in a full length formal gown complete with gloves and I will float across the dance floor thanks to those dance lessons I desperately need to take!

Ball Vienna Austria

Ball by moritz.schmaltz, on Flickr

Live in Europe
One of my fondest dreams is to live in Europe for at least 3 months.  I want to experience the culture and history that Europe offers.  I haven’t figured out where I would spend my time but I have a feeling a lot of it would be spent in some little Bavarian village!

Wachau Valley Danube River Austria

Wachau by jay8085, on Flickr

Somewhere along the way I will also stay in a Castle or Chateaux, enjoy a Tapas Crawl in Spain and wine taste in the Wachau Valley!

Well those are a few of the items that have made it to my European Bucket List.

 

Tell us a few of the items that have made it to your list!

Classic and Powerful: Neoclassical Architecture

A few months ago I started a series on the different architecture styles travelers usually come across in Europe.  So far we have covered Gothic  (Gothic Architecture of Europe), Romanesque (If it’s Tuesday, it must be Romanesque!), Baroque (Baroque: The Emotional Style), and Rococo (Rococo – Flirty & Decadent).

Continuing with this series, today’s post will delve into discovering Neoclassical architecture. This style came to prominence during the mid-18th century to make a symbolic statement against the extravagances of the past age.

Arc de Triomphe Paris France

Arc de Triomphe by Benh LIEU SONG

You could say Neoclassical architecture is the antithesis of Baroque and Rococo!  These styles were seen as over-the-top, shallow and the styles of aristocrats.  With the end of the French Revolution came a desire to move away anything having to do with “the regime” and towards a pure style, that of Ancient Greece and Rome.

Neoclassical architecture is very similar to the classical structures of Italy and Greece in its simplicity, symmetry and functionality.  Even though the style is the complete opposite of Rococo, it still is evocative and picturesque but in a self-restrained way.

Structures from the Neoclassical time will include most (if not all) of the following attributes:

Tall columns,

Vilnius Cathedral Lithuania

Vilnius Cathedral by Juliux

Clean basic lines replacing curves,

Prado Madrid Spain

Prado Madrid Spain by Fanghong

Shape is symmetric,

Marynkas Palace in Pulawy Poland

Marynkas Palace in Pulawy Poland by Ghalas

Domed roof, and

Lutheran Cathedral Helsinki Finland

Lutheran Cathedral Helsinki Finland by Purpy Pupple

Triangular pediment.

Pantheon Paris France

Pantheon Paris France by Kpjas

All of this together reflects the virtue, philosophy and harmony of ancient Italy and Greece.  In this style, the emphasis is on enriching and influencing lives instead of frivolous aesthetics and can be seen in libraries, schools, banks, capital building and monuments.

The imposing structures convey a feeling of superiority in an intimidating manner.  This commanding presence was seen as way to demonstrate state power and was one of the reasons Napoleon used it so widely in Paris.    Taking it further, Neoclassical architecture was the favored style of Hitler and the leaders in communist Russia.

Ostankino Palace in Moscow Russia

Ostankino Palace in Moscow Russia by Ghirlandajo

Even though you may not have known the name of this style, I know you have seen it in Europe and across the world!

 

Do you have a favorite Neoclassic building or monument?

Strange Games and Unique Festivals in Europe

We all enjoy festivals and outdoor events, especially during the summer, so I did a little digging and found some strange sporting games and unique festivals held in Europe that just might interest you.  Most are held during the summer but some are held at other times during the year.

Mobile Phone Throwing began as an international “sport” in 2000 with the World Championships being held each year in Savonlinna, Finland.  During the event, contestants can participate in up to 4 categories: distance throwing, freestyle choreography, team and a junior event for those under 12.  Guess we know what happens to all our old cell phones!

Mobile Phone Throwing World Championships

Mobile Phone Throwing World Championships by husin.sani, on Flickr

Imagine if you will, an Irishman goes with a few mates to a pub during lunch to discuss a new motor sport idea.  A few pints and hours later Lawn Mower Racing is born!  Beginning in England during 1973 the sport is now world wide with many events held during summer months including a World Championship.  That’s why men need to stay away from the pubs!

Lawnmower Races

Lawnmower Races by Fir0002

The Flour Festival in Viana do Bolo, a town in the Ourense region of Galicia in Spain, takes place each February during the Lent/Carnival season.  Yes, they actually throw flour, in fact, no clean face is safe including those of tourists!  Don’t wear your best clothes.

If you want to go to Hell then you might just want to go between September 1 and 4 when the Hell Blues Festival takes place in Hell, Norway.  Ok so this isn’t a strange festival but I thought some of you might want to go to Hell 🙂  They also accept volunteers to help with the festival, which allows one free entrance for every 8 hours of work!

Irish Road Bowling has been around since the 17th century and is now governed by the Irish Road Bowling Association.  Literally played on a road, 2 players throw an iron ball down the road with the one going the furthest crowned winner!  With terms like Bullet, Road Shower, Bowl of Odds, Butt, Faugh a Ballach and Kitter-Paw, how could it not be an exciting sporting event?

Road Bowling

Road Bowling by fergie_lancealot, on Flickr

Dragon Boat Racing has been taking place for at least 2000 years.  There are many festivals throughout the world but in Europe you can enjoy races in Lubeck (Germany), Budapest or, the largest, in Malmo Sweden.  The human powered boats are long and usually decorated with a dragon head and tail.  The crew is about 22 people including a drummer who controls the beat of the rowing.  The brightly colored boats are quite a sight as they glide over the water!

Dragon Boat Racing Budapest Hungary

Dragon Boat Racing Budapest Hungary

Splashdiving events are held throughout Europe and, from what I’ve seen, would be a fun event to attend!  Splashdiving or “Freestyle Bombing” was developed in Germany and the goal is to make as big a splash and as much noise when hitting the water as you possibly can.  This means you want a lot of skin smacking the water, ouch!  There are 12 sanctioned jumps each with a different degree of difficulty.  To see Splashdiving in action, watch this short UTube video:

Wife Carrying World Championships are held in Sonkajarvi Finland where the event was introduced in 1992.  As the name indicates, this “sport” is made up of the male competitor carrying his female teammate through an obstacle course.  The winner is the fastest and the prize is their “wife’s” weight in beer!  While there are other Wife Carrying Contests only in Finland do you win the beer.  After the events are completed stick around for awards, karaoke, dances and other festivities.

World Wife Carrying Championship

World “Wife Carry” Championships by jurvetson, on Flickr"

There you have it, some weird and strange games and festivals.

 

Which one would you most like to attend?

6 Walled Cities of Europe

Walled European cities have a romantic allure to them but if you think about it, there is nothing romantic about the reason the walls were needed in the first place.

These beautiful walls were erected as a defense from invaders.  They were used to squash and kill anyone trying to take over the town.  Literally, thousands have been killed at the base of the fortified walls, which were also used to regulate people and goods going in and out of the city.

Despite all of this, I am drawn to medieval walled cities.  Below are 6 walled cities in Europe that I would love spending time in wandering through their streets listening as the wind tells their story.

Medieval Carcassone France

Fortified cité of Carcassonne by thierry, on Flickr

Carcassonne France

Europe’s largest medieval fortress is Carcassonne.  Located in southwestern France, near the foot of the Pyrenees, Carcassonne rises above the lovely vineyards in the valley below.  The mighty walls were first erected by the Romans during the 1st century but the elements have taken their toll making it necessary to restore these walls to their magnificent beginnings.  Make sure you spend some time strolling through the impressive gates and cobblestoned streets stopping by the pleasing shops and restaurants.

Dubrovnik Croatia a medieval village

Dubrovnik Croatia by Rambling Traveler, on Flickr

Dubrovnik Croatia

To say that Dubrovnik is a beautiful city is truly an understatement.  This walled city at the southern end of Croatia sits like the beautiful star it is overlooking the Adriatic.  Heralded as the most beautiful spot in the Mediterranean, Croatia is filled with streets that are lined with Baroque buildings and is steeped in architectural wonders.  The Old Town of this stunning city is home to many churches, monasteries and fountains.  Make sure to leave time to enjoy views of the Adriatic by walking along the city’s intact walls.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber Bavaria Germany

Rothenburg Panorama courtesy of Bayern Tourismus

Rothenburg ob der Tauber Germany

Rothenburg holds a very special place in my heart.  During my first ever trip to Germany I visited Rothenburg and fell in love with this amazingly quaint village.  Yes it is touristy but it is worth every minute you will spend here.  Walking down cobblestoned streets you will be greeted by old houses, towers and gateways that have all withstood the test of time. At every corner you come face to face with the history this town has seen.  Be sure to enjoy walking the city walls, which almost circle the town, and from which you can get amazing views of the Tauber valley below.

Medieval York England

York Minster from the Roman walls by James Preston, on Flickr

York England

York welcomes those that love history.  This magical city hold much English history as it was the 2nd most important city in all of England at one point in history.  This historic town is surrounded by a 700 year old wall.  The grand cathedral of York, The Minster, looms above the city.    This gothic structure took over 250 years to complete and contains many stained glass windows along with the flying buttresses.  There is much to do in York but don’t forget to spend time wandering her narrow cobblestoned streets gazing at the timbered buildings.

Medieval Bruges Belgium

Bridge over Bruges Canal, Belguim by kevgibbo, on Flickr

Bruges Belgium

Two thousand year old Bruges is known as the Venice of the north due to the many canals gracing the city.  At one point in history, Bruges was the most important commercial city in Europe.  Walking the streets of Bruges is a great way to soak up the history that greets you at every turn.  Explore inside the city walls to see the churches, castle, romantic canals, chocolate shops, colorful homes and museums.  You can even visit the Diamond museum or the French fry museum!

Medieval Avila Spain

Ávila by valakirka, on Flickr

Avila Spain

As you approach Avila you will be treated to a very stimulating sight.  From a distance, you can see the 11th century fortress standing as it must have yesterday.  This is the oldest fortification in all of Spain and home to a gothic cathedral and striking 15th century houses.  The most fun is spending time strolling the old town with its cobblestone streets and abundance of plazas.  Don’t forget to look for the storks that make their home under the rooftops of the city.

 

Have you been to any of these medieval cities?

What other walled cities would you add to the list and why?

Is a Yurt Lodging?

What is a Yurt?

According to the dictionary, a yurt is “a tentlike dwelling of the Mongol and Turkic peoples of central Asia, consisting of a cylindrical wall of poles in a lattice arrangement with a conical roof of poles, both covered by felt or skins.”

Yurts are the traditional homes of Nomads in Central Asia.  The traditional construction consists of a circular wooden latticed frame covered with felt.  These homes worked especially well for the Nomads since they were designed to be dismantled and then carried by camel or yak to be built again at their next destination.  Yurts were repaired as needed and were passed down, father to son, to the next generation.

Today Yurts are still used by herders in the steppes of Central Asia but have also been adopted and used in other areas of the world as shelters for Nordic skiers, housing and school rooms.  Yurts are also available as an alternative to traditional hotels during our travels.

Modern Yurts offer European travelers the feel of a tent but with more of the comforts of home.  In fact, some of them are down right luxurious!

Mongolian Yurt Hoopoe Yurt Hotel Andalucia Spain

Mongolian Yurt courtesy of Hoopoe Yurt Hotel

Hoopoe Yurt Hotel – Andalucía Spain
“Camp in Style . . . allowing you to get back to nature without forgoing the usual luxuries you would wish for on your holiday.”

Afghani Yurt Hoopoe Yurt Hotel Andalucia Spain

Afghani Yurt courtesy of Hoopoe Yurt Hotel

The Hoopoe Yurt Hotel is a complex of 5 yurts set on 3 hectare acres of olive groves and Cork Oak trees.  The grounds offer amazing views of the Grazalema Mountains and the wilds of Southern Spain along with many hammocks and a chlorine-free swimming pool!  The entire complex is run on solar power.

Poolside Hoopoe Yurt Hotel Andalucia Spain

Poolside courtesy of Hoopoe Yurt Hotel

All of the yurts are individually decorated and include antique Mongolian furniture and antique linens from around the world.  Each yurt has a private bathroom next door complete with a hot shower and “ecological loo”.

Jaipur Yurt Hoopoe Yurt Hotel Andalucia Spain

Jaipur Yurt courtesy of Hoopoe Yurt Hotel

Each yurt has its own name affiliated with the area it came from.  You can choose from the Afghani yurt, Mongolian yurt, Jaipur yurt, Safari yurt, or Maimani yurt.  Each of these offers great views, seclusion and is decorated in traditional motifs.

Your Meal is Served Hoopoe Yurt Hotel Andalucia Spain

Your Meal is Served courtesy of Hoopoe Yurt Hotel

Canvas Chic – Ardeche France
This complex is a small campground located near the Ardeche river and gorge in the Rhone-Alpes region of southern France.  The area is known for its outdoors activities, prehistoric caves and stunning scenery.

Pont d'Arc Ardeche France

Pont d'Arc by Nolleos, on Flickr

The grounds of CanvasChic hold 11 yurts and 20 tent sights.  The yurts are all handcrafted from oak and ash and are covered in canvas.  There is a definite “rustic” feel to the lodgings but they are still very nice accommodations – they just have a campier feel to them!

CanvasChic Yurt Rhone-Alps France

CanvasChic Yurt courtesy of CanvasChic

There are shared showers and toilets as well as access to a shared kitchen complete with refrigerator, stoves and utensils.  If you don’t want to cook, there is a café and bar onsite.

One thing to note, they offer a 10% “zero emissions” discount if you arrive on foot or bike!

 

Are you looking for alternative style lodging for your next trip to Europe?

Would one of these options be something you would stay in?

Tell me about it . . . why or why not?

 

 

 

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