April 29, 2017

Slovenia: Tiny but Beautiful!

From the Adriatic coast to the mountains of the Alps, tiny Slovenia is one of Europe’s most impressive countries and yet one of its best kept secrets.

Wedged at the crossroads of Austria, Italy, Hungary and Croatia, Slovenia is a unique blend of each country. Roughly the size of New Jersey, the surprises waiting for visitors include beaches, rolling green countryside, quaint Alpine villages, interesting architecture, snow-capped mountains and a multitude of outdoor activities.

I’ve never been to Slovenia but here are 7 reasons I would visit Slovenia!

1.  Beautiful coast along the Adriatic

Sitting on a beach in Piran you’ll feel like you could be on the French Riviera or Italy but you’re actually enjoying the beauty of the Adriatic from Slovenia! Piran is home to lovely views, rolling vineyards and a wonderful Italian cuisine but not the hordes of people, yet!!

 

Piran Sailboats Slovenia

Piran Sailboats Slovenia author: Ubald Trnkoczy from Slovenia Tourist Board

2.  Wine

The hills near the Austrian border are full of vineyards producing wonderful Slovenian wine! The last few years have seen a huge growth in the quality and quantity of wine produced here. At the same time, tasting rooms and Vinoteka’s have popped up all over Maribor’s streets.

3.  Fairy Tale Castles

There are hundreds of castles in Slovenia. Some rest on hills overlooking towns, cling precariously to the side of a mountain, sit in the middle of lakes and rivers while even others are linked to underground caverns.

 

Predjama Castle Slovenia

Predjama Castle Slovenia by Ayack wikimedia

4)  Cities

The cities of Slovenia are traditional and charming. Ljubljana, the capital, is a blend of Old World charm and contemporary energy. The picturesque medieval city of Skofja Loka is nestled amongst green rolling hill, Piran still has its town wall and Ptuj is the countries oldest city.

 

Skofja Loka Slovenia

Skofja Loka Slovenia from wikimedia

5.  Alpine Mountains

The Julian Alps are a mountain lover’s paradise full of hiking, climbing, skiing and other outdoor activities.  It is here you’ll find inspiration in Triglav National Park home to the highest peak in Slovenia, Mt Triglav ( 9,396 feet).  The lakes, rivers, mountains, villages and flowers of the Julian Alps create a picture perfect spot to unwind and enjoy nature.

 

Alpine Valley Slovenia

Alpine Valley Slovenia by Matijap wikimedia

6.  Caves

Not only is Slovenia beautiful above ground but it shines underground too! With over 8,800 caves, Slovenia has more than its share of caves. The world’s longest cave, Postojna Cave, will take your breath away and the underground canyon in Skocjan Cave is amazing. But these two caves are just the tip of the iceberg!

7.  Rivers and Lakes

The rivers and lakes of Slovenia only add to its charm. Famous Lake Bled is probably the most photographed place in the country but is still a tranquil spot especially since motor boats aren’t allowed. Bigger Bohinj Lake is pristine and surrounded by stunning mountains and some say the Soca River is Europe’s prettiest. The emerald water of the river allow for great rafting, kayaking and fishing while the lakes are great places for hiking and biking.

 

Lake Bled Slovenia

Lake Bled Slovenia author: J. Skok from Slovenia Tourist Board

 

 

What do you think, is Slovenia worth the visit?

Castles Along the Vistula

The rivers of Europe wind their way through the heartland of the continent. Historically, cities were established along rivers because they offered drinking water and transportation.  Today we admire the old-world cities, historic villages, beautiful countryside, medieval cathedrals and enchanting castles found along the banks of Europe’s rivers.

Along with the Thames, Seine, Danube and Rhine rivers, the Vistula is one of Europe’s great rivers.

Vistula River near Torun Poland

Vistula River near Torun by Pko

Traversing Poland from south to north, the Vistula is the largest river in Poland traveling 651 miles before reaching the Baltic at Gdansk.  Although the river passes many of Poland’s greatest cities it also flows past near picture perfect mountains, foothills, enchanting cities, grassy banks full of flowers and castles.

Here are some of the castles and palaces you’ll find along the Vistula.

Wawel Castle Krakow Poland

Wawel Castle Krakow by Eigenwerk

Wawel Castle in Krakow


Standing 150 feet above Krakow is Wawel Castle.  Built in the 10th century and starting out in the Romanesque style, the castle today is a mix of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles.  Wawel castle remained the home of Polish royalty for 500 years and is known for its elegant rooms, galleries and tapestries.  The grounds also include a cathedral which houses the royal tombs.

Baranow Sandomierski Castle Arcade Poland

Baranow Sandomierski Castle Arcade by Jerzy Strzelecki

Baranow Sandomierski Castle Poland

Baranow Sandomierski Castle by Jerzy Strzelecki

Castle of Baranow Sandomierski


This beautiful castle, also known as “Little Wawel”, sits on the east side of the Vistula river.  It was built from 1591 – 1606 in Poland’s Mannerist style.  The Mannerist style usually has ornate attics, side towers and arcades and was replaced by the Baroque style.  Today this castle serves as a museum, hotel and conference center.

Janowiec Castle Ruins Poland

Janowiec Castle Ruins by Piotr J


Janowiec Castle


The castle was originally built during the 16th century and today is mostly in ruins although there are renovations taking place in an attempt to bring the castle back to life.  This impressive castle and grounds are worth the short hike and include a museum on Royal Interiors.

Pałace Wilanow Poland

Pałace Wilanow by A. Osytek


Wilanow Royal Palace


Wilanow, a suburb of Warsaw on the left bank of the Vistula, is home to a Royal Palace that was built for King Jan III Sobieski as his summer residence. The Baroque 17th century palace is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful buildings in Poland.  The interiors are said to be exquisite as are the lawns and Italian style gardens.

Royal Castle Warsaw Poland

Royal Castle Warsaw by sfu

Royal Castle Warsaw Ballroom Poland

Royal Castle Warsaw Ballroom by Marek & Ewa Wojciechowscy

Royal Castle in Warsaw


For centuries this Royal Castle was the residence of Polish Kings and the Seat of Parliament. In fact, Nicholas I of Russia was crowned King of Poland here in 1829. This 15th century Gothic castle has a commanding brick façade but is best known for its spires.  At the center is the Sigismund Tower with clock which has become one of the symbols of Poland’s capital.  Many of the rooms have been restored including the Royal apartments and Houses of Parliament.

Pieskowa Skala Castle Poland

Pieskowa Skala Castle by Marek & Ewa Wojciechowscy


Pieskowa Skala Castle


The position of this castle really lends to the fairy tale feel you get when visiting Pieskowa Skala.  Dating back to the 14th century, the castle sits on a limestone cliff and is part of a series of castles built to protect the area during Medieval times.  Pieskowa Skala castle is inside the Ojcow National Park and was built in the Renaissance style.  While visiting make sure to see the beautiful courtyards and visit the renovated rooms and artifacts from the local area.

 

Well that’s just a taste of the Castles along the Vistula!

 

Have you been to Poland and any of these castles?

How Gutenberg Changed the World in Mainz

During my exploration of Historic Germany, I visited Mainz a wonderful city on the Rhine River that’s known for Chagall blue stained glass windows in St. Stephans, its beautiful old town, a dominate Romanesque Cathedral and, of course, being the center of Germany’s largest wine region!

Mainz is one of Germany’s oldest towns so it makes sense that a lot of history has passed through its streets and its no surprise that one event taking place in Mainz literally changed the world!

Prior to 1439, books and schools were very expensive and, therefore, reserved for only wealthy men.  In fact, higher education was reserved for boys that would devote their lives to the church.

Johannes Gutenberg Mainz Germany

Johannes Gutenberg Mainz Germany

Johannes Gutenberg, born in Mainz during 1398, invented the movable type printing press here in 1439. The Gutenberg Press introduced printing to Europe and changed the world by spreading learning to the people.  This one invention was the fuel for revolutions that spread across the world from the Renaissance to the Scientific Revolution!

What the world is today, good and bad, it owes to Gutenberg. Everything can be traced to this source, but we are bound to bring him homage, … for the bad that his colossal invention has brought about is overshadowed a thousand times by the good with which mankind has been favored.” Mark Twain

Beginning in 1452, Gutenberg printed 180 Bibles.  The 48 Gutenberg Bibles still existing today are thought to be the most valuable books in the world.

Gutenberg Museum Mainz Germany

Gutenberg Museum Facade Mainz Germany

The Gutenberg Museum is one of the oldest museums in the world dedicated to printing.  The administration and restoration department are housed in the beautiful Zum Romischen Kaiser building while the exhibits on printing equipment, techniques, graphics, paper and examples of printed materials from different countries are housed a few steps away.

Gutenberg Press Mainz Germany

Gutenberg Press Mainz Germany

It is here that you will be able to see replicas of Gutenberg’s printing press, demonstrations, and glimpse two Gutenberg Bibles on display.

Gutenberg Bible Mainz Germany

Gutenberg Bible by yoTraveler, on Flickr

Gutenberg’s printing press saved time and money making books more readily available leading to a more learned population which, in turn, caused people to read more and ask questions.  Another way Gutenberg’s printing press contributed to changing the world was through the life of a young man in Erfurt Germany, Martin Luther.

But that’s a story for another day!


 

These pictures are part of Travel Photo Thursday!
For more great pictures,make sure to check out Budget Travelers Sandbox.
Maybe I’ll see you there!

Easy Crossing In Efurt Germany

For various reasons, cities and villages were founded along the banks of rivers.

Not only did they provide a way to transport people and goods, they also supplied drinking water, irrigation and food.

Sitting along the Gera River in the Thuringian region of Germany is Erfurt.

Half Timbered House along Gera River Erfurt Germany

Half Timbered House along the River

During the Middle Ages, Erfurt was a popular city on the trade route because of the ease in crossing the river. In fact, that is how the city got its name. The original name of the Erfurt’s river was the Erphes and furt means ford, which according to dictionary.com is “a place where a river or other body of water is shallow enough to be crossed by wading.”  So you can see how the two were combined to make Erfurt!

Gera River Erfurt Germany

Gera River in Erfurt

While the name of the river didn’t stick, the name of the city did!

House along Gera River Erfurt Germany

House along Gera River

Although the Gera isn’t a large river, it is impossible to miss while in Erfurt.  Just wander Erfurt and you’ll meet the waters of the Gera.

Gera River flows under Krämerbrücke Erfurt Germany

Flowing under Krämerbrücke

Today, rivers are enjoyed for different reasons. For me, rivers offer a sense of peace and calm. They’re great places to rest, walk, enjoy picnics and just take in the beauty surrounding you.

Flowered Boats Gera River Erfurt Germany

Flowered boats on the other side of island

Flowered boats in Gera River Erfurt Germany

Decorative boats in the river

How do you enjoy rivers while traveling?

 

These photo’s are part of Travel Photo Thursday.
For more great pictures, check out Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Maybe I’ll see you there!

European Dreaming in 2013

Now that the pages of the calendar have slipped into a new year, it’s the time of year to reflect back and dream forward (and start back to the gym!).  I’m not going to rehash the places I visited in Europe during 2012 but just need to say, if you’ve not been to Germany you must put it on your list for this year.  Make sure to cover the touristy areas such as Munich, Ludwig’s Castles and the Rhine River but also leave time to explore the country’s lesser known jewels as this is where Germany shines!

Make sure you visit those small Bavarian villages, be amazed by the wines Germany offers, taste beer  fresh from the keg, follow Luther’s footsteps into Erfurt and beyond, travel along the many scenic routes like the Romantic Road, explore the beaches of the Baltic and North Sea for a taste of sea side Germany and don’t forget the diamonds in the rough that were once part of East Germany.

But now that we’re a few days into January, I’m dreaming of my travels in 2013. I have not made any travel plans yet but I am dreaming of where I’d most like to go and have narrowed down my list to these 5 areas.

Canoeing Dordogne River France

Dordogne by Jos Dielis, on Flickr

Dordogne Valley France

Small villages, rivers, canoes, hot air balloons, wine and prehistoric history all combine to make the Dordogne Valley call to me. I could see myself spending time driving from village to village enjoying the lovely markets, wines and cuisine along the way.  Adding in days lazing in a canoe along the Dordogne river or visiting the national parks and gardens.  There are many castles and churches to be visited  too!

Adare Manor Ireland

Adare Manor Ireland by Jerzy Strzelecki

Ireland

When I think of Ireland I see green rolling hills, smiling people, lochs, fog, turbulent oceans, pubs, beer and music…  and castles waiting to tuck me in at night! Along with general sight seeing, I’d most like to enjoy evenings in those famous Irish pubs drinking the local brew while humming to wonderful Irish music.  I’m not a huge whiskey fan but I would enjoy touring a whiskey factory and sampling this distilled wonder.  I’ve always thought I’d probably like whiskey if I was drinking it in Ireland J Besides this, I’d love to drive around the country gazing at the scenery and learning about her history while spending of my nights in some of the many bed and breakfasts that dot the countryside (when I’m not staying in a castle, of course!).

Karlovy Vary Czech Republic

Karlovy Vary Czech Republic by Bobak Ha'Eri

Czech Republic

I’ll admit it, pictures and movies talk to me!  So as I was watching “The Last Holiday” before Christmas I was reminded of how much I’d love to visit Karlovy Vary and even stay at the Hotel Pupp! But that would just be a start to my visit of the Czech Republic.  Of course, I couldn’t leave without visiting Prague but I really want to visit the areas outside the capital city.  Plzen for its beer would definitely be on the itinerary along with the castles, forests, gorges, mountains, caves, architecture and history that Bohemia and Moravia are known for!

Dolomites in Sud Tirol Italy

Dolomites in Sud Tirol Italy by Alesvp

Sud Tirol Italy

I’m a mountain girl and those gorgeous and jagged peaks of the Dolomites have beckoned me for years. I would love to stand in an amazing green meadow surrounded by the soaring mountains.  Of course, I’d also love to sample the local wine, enjoy the cuisine, learn about the history and legends and visit the small villages that sit so cozily at the foot of the Dolomite’s.  There will also be time for a little hiking which would only make the trip complete.

Berchtesgaden Germany

Berchtesgaden Germany by Eric Sorenson

Germany

You didn’t think I could make a potential travel list without including spots in Germany did you 🙂 There really is so much of this country I haven’t been to but I think I’d really love to travel along the Alpine Road into Prien visiting Chiemsee, Berchtesgaden and any number of small lovely villages along the way.  Or maybe I should finally break down and visit those lovely Christmas markets!

Boy this is going to be a tough decision!

 

What are you European travel dreams for 2013?

A Sunday Stroll in Mainz

With a history dating back to the 1st century BC, Mainz is one of the oldest cities in Germany. The history of Mainz starts with the Romans who built a fort here and commanded the west bank of the Rhine River.  During its history Mainz was also part of France and is where Johannes Gutenberg invented the movable printing press.

I arrived in Mainz late on a beautiful Saturday afternoon and was met by a ton of people spending time in the old town enjoying the weekly market and wine festival.

 

It wasn’t until the next morning that I was able to roam the streets and alleys of Mainz and truly see the beauty this city offers!Houses along Marktplatz Mainz Germany

I took the tram to Gutenbergplatz where I started my Sunday Stroll first meeting the man himself, Johannes Gutenberg.  This is also where I enjoyed a lovely glass of wine and amazing carrot soup the day before.Market Fountain Mainz Germany

Wandering I came to Markplatz home to yesterday’s bustling market.  On this Sunday morning, it was peaceful so I was able to enjoy the sites like the Marktbrunnen or Market Fountain a grand example of a Renaissance fountain complete with Madonna on the top.Gutenberg Museum Mainz Germany

The old houses lining the street are equally magnificent and include the Gutenburg Museum which is housed in a fine palace known as Zum Romischer Kaiser (At the sign of the Roman Emperor).Overshadow by Cathedral Main Germany

This area is the center of the inner city and is overshadowed by the very large 1,000 year old Cathedral of Mainz.  Any stroll in the area will pass St. Boniface who was the first Archbishop of Mainz.Rhine view from Mainz Germany

Following the streets you will reach the Rhine River with its views across to Weisbaden!Lovely Old Town Mainz Germany

Crossing back to the streets of Mainz led me to the Old Town. Strolling along Augustinerstrasse, which used to be the “main” street of Mainz, took me by beautiful half timbered houses and through an area that was once cherry orchards.  They call this area a strollers delight and I definitely could see why!Facade Augustiner Church Mainz Germany

Continuing my stroll along Augustinerstrasse brought me to the fabulous Baroque façade of the Augustiner Church.  Dating back to 1768 and surviving World War II, the inside is as wonderful as the front.  Take a look at the amazing frescoes!Inside Augustiner Church Mainz Germany

It was time to head up to St Stephan home to the famous Chagall blue stained glass windows.  As I twisted and turned my way up the hill, I was sure I was lost but then I saw the Gothic church peeking through an alley way.  The church itself simple but attractive on the outside but once you enter you’re met by a wonder calming blueness.  The Russian Jewish painter, Marc Chagall, made the windows from 1978-1985 and they are truly stunning!Chagall Windows St Stephans Mainz Germany

Now it was time to head back to my hotel to get ready for dinner at Weinstube Hottum.  But before I stopped wandering, I strolled through Schillerplatz where I ran into the man himself along with the Carnival fountain, which is full of symbols and figures from the Mainz Carnival.  Schillerplatz is also lined with some beautiful buildings from the 1700’s – the Baroque Osteiner Hof and Bassenheimer Hof are two great examples of the architectural style of the day!Houses on Schillerplatz Mainz Germany

When I first arrived in Mainz, I wasn’t too sure how I felt the city.  By the time I finished my Sunday Stroll, I had fallen in love with this beautiful city on the Rhine! Mainz is a wonderful German city full of life and vitality.  It is also a short 30 minute train ride to Frankfurt airport so it would make a great beginning or ending to any trip to Germany.

 

Have you been to Mainz?

Many thanks to Historic Highlights of Germany for organizing this trip and to the wonderful people with the Mainz Tourist Office!

European Villages Discovered-Saint-Cirq-Lapopie

A few years ago I was able to spend a few days in the Midi-Pyrénées region of France, specifically Cahors and Rocamadour.  I remember being amazed at the beauty of my surroundings as we drove through the countryside. As my eyes fell on beautiful village after beautiful village I found myself wondering why the area is not more popular with American tourists.  I also vowed I would return one day to spend more time exploring this beautiful region of France!

Today we’re discovering a European village from the Midi-Pyrénées region, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie! 

Saint-Cirq-Lapopie France by Adam Baker

Saint-Cirq-Lapopie France by Adam Baker

In an area known for chateaux, prehistoric caves, scenic villages, truffles, lazy rivers and the almost black Cahors wine you will find Saint-Cirq-Lapopie.

Restaurant Saint Cirq Lapopie France

Outside restaurant Saint Cirq Lapopie by tristanf, on Flickr

Known as one of France’s most beautiful villages, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie rests precariously on a rocky outcrop high above the river Lot in Southwest France.  Its situation along the river offers stunning views but also provided a great defense protecting the village from many battles that have taken place in the area including an unsuccessful attack in 1199 by Richard the Lionheart.

Lovely Alley Saint-Cirq Lapopie France

Saint-Cirq Lapopie: Alley View by Nick Dimmock, on Flickr

During medieval times, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie was home to four important families each of which has left their mark on this beautiful village. This is also the reason there have been many chateaux and churches in the village.  Remaining today are 3 chateaux and a Gothic church, dating back to the 15th century, with an amazing view over the Lot river valley.

Saint-Cirq Lapopie France Church and Rooftops

Saint-Cirq Lapopie: Church and Rooftops by Nick Dimmock, on Flickr

Like Rocamadour, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is on a pilgrimage path leading to the Santiago de Compostela which is also the reason for its popularity during medieval times.  Today, the entrance to the village is still via the medieval stone wall and gate.

Saint Cirq Lapopie France

Saint Cirq Lapopie Panorama by TwoWings

Wandering the village visitors will see houses dating back to medieval times many of which still bear the steep tile roofs.  Some are made from stone found in the region and others are constructed in the half-timbered style.

River Lot View Saint-Cirq Lapopie France

Saint-Cirq Lapopie: River Lot View by Nick Dimmock, on Flickr

Arriving at Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is almost as wonderful as the village. The road meanders along the Lot River before rising up to display the pastoral countryside of the region.  The surroundings of the village are as dramatic and beautiful as the village which makes Saint-Cirq-Lapopie dazzling no matter which direction you look!

 

Do you enjoy wandering small European villages?

Dreaming of a European River Cruise

The other day I received an email from Viking River Cruises that got me thinking.  The subject of the email was “Where would you go?” and now I’m dreaming about which European River Cruise I would most like to enjoy!

I’ve never been on a river cruise for more than a day but have to admit I am intrigued by them. The friends and relatives I know who have taken river cruises have all returned with rave reviews.  Without fail they have enjoyed the educational and cultural aspects along with the views and social camaraderie!  One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about the day cruises I’ve taken on some of Europe’s greatest rivers- Seine, Rhine, Thames and Danube – are the spectacular view you get from the river.  What could be better than arriving in Europe’s cities in the same manner as the discovers of yesterday?

So where is my dreaming taking me. . .


Portraits of Southern France 

Saone river at Lyon France

Saone river at Lyon by Jack

Gliding along the Saône and Rhône rivers from Chalon-sur-Saône to Avignon includes beautiful vistas, wonderful medieval villages of the Burgundy region and the splendor that is Provence. I’ve never been to this part of France but when you combine medieval villages, Roman ruins, history, cathedrals, cobbled street and scenery that has inspired artists like Van Gogh, well how could you go wrong?!  Add in the wine and cuisine this region is known for and you’ve got a winner.

Portugal’s River of Gold

Porto Portugal

Porto by Benjamin Dumas, on Flickr

Slowly floating along the dramatic Douro River in Portugal would offer a unique glimpse into this wonderful region. After having a chance to visit Lisbon, the cruise starts in Porto which, in my opinion, is one of the most picturesque cities in the world.  The cruise offers an opportunity to view a region that some say is still unspoiled!    Along the way glimpse vineyards set on steep hills, castles, Baroque architecture, UNESCO Heritage cities and sites as well as Gothic cathedrals.  Oh and don’t forget the food and drink the region is known for including Port and regional wine!  Yes, I think the magical Douro would be a perfect setting for my first river cruise.

Vineyards & Vistas 

Aschaffenburger Schloss along the Main River Germany

Aschaffenburger Schloss along the Main River by Carschten

The Vineyards & Vistas cruise sails along the Rhine, Main and Moselle rivers in wonderful Germany! Yes I’ve been along the Moselle and have enjoyed day cruises on the Rhine.  I’ve even been to Bamberg, Rudesheim and Trier, so why would this cruise interest me??  I LOVE the Moselle and crave to return so I can further explore this river and the surrounding small villages that are bursting with the wonderful wine of the area. Dotting the banks of the Main River are small quaint villages such as Miltenberg, which is a city that calls me! All of these rivers are full of castles, cathedrals, medieval towns, Roman ruins, history and Baroque palaces.  Plus there is also the German cuisine I love so much and cities famous for their Beer!

If I were going on a River Cruise, it would be one of these three options.  Now it’s your turn …

Where would you go on a European River Cruise?

London Bridge through the Ages

The London Bridge has been at the heart of the English capital for its entire history, playing a vital role in linking the north and south banks of the River Thames. There has not only been one London Bridge, however.  The name has referred to a number of very different structures over the ages.

Origins

London as a major metropolis came into being after the Roman invasion in AD 43. Although trade along the Thames was by then well established, it was the invaders who first bridged it, probably with a pontoon bridge of the sort used by troops. The first permanent, substantial London Bridge appeared a little over a decade later, but this wooden edifice was destroyed during the revolt led by Boudica in AD 60. Once the rebellion had been put down, the London Bridge was rebuilt.  This cross-river link helped to confirm London as the capital of the Roman province of Britannia.

Medieval times

When the Roman legions departed from Britain, around AD 410, the engineering skills required to maintain the London Bridge went with them and the bridge gradually decayed until late Saxon times. During this period and the first century of Norman rule, the London Bridge was rebuilt several times after destruction resulting both from military action and natural causes, such as the tornado of 1091. The final structure from this period, originally ordered by Henry II, was finished in 1209. This timber bridge survived for 600 years and, at its height during the Tudor period, boasted 200 shops along its 800-foot length.

London Bridge at night London England

London Bridge Illuminated by burge5000

The 19th century bridge

By the 19th century, it was clear that the ancient bridge was inadequate for the much larger London of the Industrial Revolution. In 1831, the new five-arched stone bridge was opened and the medieval bridge was then demolished. Although the new London Bridge had more capacity than the one it replaced, as the city continued to grow, it in turn became overcrowded. By the turn of the 20th century, the London Bridge was the single worst point of congestion in the entire capital.  In fact, the sheer weight of vehicles crossing it every day lead to the foundation beginning to sink.

London Bridge today

Despite its flaws, it took until the second half of the 20th century for this London Bridge to be replaced. Famously, it was purchased by an American businessman, who had it shipped in pieces to the US and reassembled in Arizona. The replacement bridge, the one that stands today, was opened by the Queen in 1973. This is a straightforward concrete box girder bridge, which does not have the elegance of some of its predecessors but is able to stand up to the high demands of 21st-century traffic.

The many visitors who stay in London Bridge hotels today may well pass over the bridge regularly without ever realizing the two millennia of history behind this Thames crossing!

 

Have you crossed the London Bridge without realizing its history?

 

This article was brought to you by Mercure hotels.

Roman Trier Germany

When visiting Europe, you expect to run into Roman ruins in Britain, France and, obviously, Rome Italy!  But you might be surprised running into Roman ruins in Germany.

Yes, I said Germany.  Sitting in the lovely valley created by the Moselle River is Trier, Germany’s oldest city.  Founded around 16 BC, Trier has had quite a history including the Roman kind!

Trier and Moselle River Germany

Trier and Moselle River

At one time Trier was the capital of the Western Roman Empire and this included being the residence of the Western Roman Emperor and his son, Constantine the Great.  During this time, Trier was known as the 2nd Rome and it was Constantine that developed the city including the beautiful Imperial Baths.

Roman Imperial Baths Trier Germany

Imperial Baths- Trier are known as the largest outside Rome and were built in 4th century

There is one of the four old Roman gates still standing in Trier, the Porta Nigra.  Built in the 2nd century this city gate is the oldest defensive structure in Germany.

Roman Porta Nigra Trier Germany

Porta Nigra Trier by Berthold Werner

During Roman times, an amphitheater was a clear sign that your city was very important.  The amphitheater in Trier was the site for gladiator fights and animal contests.

Roman Amphitheater Trier Germany

The Roman Amphitheater Trier once seated 25,000 people!

To commemorate their Roman history, Trier hosts Germany’s biggest Roman festival each year.  The Brot und Spiele festival show cases history through actual depictions of gladiator fights at the amphitheater and exhibits of Roman civil and military life at the Imperial Baths.  If you’re in Germany from August 31 through September 2 stop by Trier for some good ole Roman fun!

This is just a glimpse of the Roman history in Trier.  This UNESCO designated city has so much more to see!


These photo’s are shared as part of Travel Photo Thursday.
For more great pictures, check out Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Maybe I’ll see you there!