A Travellerspoint blog

ROME PART A

All roads lead to Rome - Three days then a 11 day cruise then back to Rome for a few more days

Rome really is the eternal city. There is no other like it for ancient history coexisting with the modern world. Rome, Italy’s capital, is a sprawling, cosmopolitan city with nearly 3,000 years of globally influential art, architecture and culture on display. Ancient ruins such as the Forum and the Colosseum evoke the power of the former Roman Empire. Vatican City, headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, has St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, which house masterpieces such as Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes.

WEDNESDAY 4 JANUARY 2017 - ROME

We arrived this afternoon to a beautiful 10 degrees Celsius after leaving 1 degree Celsius this morning.

Our hotel, IQ Roma is a very welcome surprise - new, very comfortable, spacious and very well appointed. Our bathroom with a full bath, separate shower, toilet and bidet is about the size of the whole studio we had in Paris.

We had a wonderful restaurant recommended too us, Bertezletto, two streets away. Arguably, the best Italian food we have ever had. We have been to Rome four times before.

THURSDAY 5 JANARY 2017 - The Trevi Fountain, Via del Corso, Piazza Navarone and the Pantheon

Rome has a good bus network with a ticket costing 1.5 Euros means you can have 100 minutes of bus travel. As central Rome is quite compact you can really get around. Today we headed for the Vis del Corso,one of the main shopping streets in proximity to quite a few places of interest.

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The Piazza Colonna

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The really impressive thing to note is that ancient buildings are preserved in Rome.

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The Pantheon is a former Roman temple, now a church, in Rome, Italy, on the site of an earlier temple commissioned by Marcus Agrippa during the reign of Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD). The present building was completed by the emperor Hadrian and probably dedicated about 126 AD. He retained Agrippa's original inscription, which has confused its date of construction as the original Pantheon burnt down so it is not certain when the one now standing was built.

The building is circular with a portico of large granite Corinthian columns (eight in the first rank and two groups of four behind) under a pediment. A rectangular vestibule links the porch to the rotunda, which is under a coffered concrete dome, with a central opening (oculus) to the sky. Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon's dome is still the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome.[3] The height to the oculus and the diameter of the interior circle are the same, 43.3 metres.

It is one of the best-preserved of all Ancient Roman buildings, in large part because it has been in continuous use throughout its history, and since the 7th century, the Pantheon has been used as a church dedicated to "St. Mary and the Martyrs" (Latin: Santa Maria ad Martyres) but informally known as "Santa Maria Rotonda". The square in front of the Pantheon is called Piazza della Rotonda. The Pantheon is a state property, ruled by Italy's Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism through the Polo Museale del Lazio; in 2013 it was visited by over 6 million people.

Though the Pantheon's large circular domed cella, with a conventional temple portico front, is "unique" in Roman architecture, it was much the largest and most accessible complete classical temple front known to the Italian Renaissance, and was the standard exemplar when classical styles were revived. It has therefore been copied many times by modern architects.

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We walked on to the Piazza Navona. Piazza Navona is built on the site of the Stadium of Domitian, built in 1st century AD, and follows the form of the open space of the stadium. The ancient Romans went there to watch the agones ("games"), and hence it was known as "Circus Agonalis" ("competition arena"). It is believed that over time the name changed to in avone to Navone and eventually to Navona.

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The picture above shows one of the newer buildings. It is nearly 700 years young.

Time for a quick break. The Italians make great beer.
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The National Monument of Victor Emmanuel II (Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II) is a remarkably large building made of white marble. This monument was built in honor of Victor Emanuel II. Although not having towers in its general design, the medieval structure still attracts attention from almost all parts of Rome because its color stands out in an array of earth-colored buildings. It is situated between the Capitoline Hill and Piazza Venezia and features some statues, columns, and grand stairways.
First King of Italy
Victor Emmanuel II always had the goal of making Italy unified. Then there arose a unified Italy in 1861 and he came to be the first king. When he died in 1878, he was buried in the Pantheon.

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Across from the Monument and is the Palazzo Bonaparte owned by Bonapart's mother. She lived out her days here.

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The Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs is a titular basilica church in Rome, Italy built inside the frigidarium of the Baths of Diocletian in the Piazza della Republica.

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FRIDAY 6 JANUARY 2017 - the Metro, The Spanish Steps (Piazza di Spagna), the Colosseum and the Roman Forum (Palantine Hill).

The Spanish Steps are a set of steps in Rome, Italy, climbing a steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti, dominated by the Trinità dei Monti church at the top.

The monumental stairway of 135 steps (the slightly elevated drainage system is often mistaken for the first step) was built with French diplomat Étienne Gueffier’s bequeathed funds of 20,000 scudi, in 1723–1725, linking the Bourbon Spanish Embassy, and the Trinità dei Monti church that was under the patronage of the Bourbon kings of France, both located above — to the Holy See in Palazzo Monaldeschi located below.

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It is possible to see ancient ruins like the three photos below among streets filled with cafes and shopping like these below.

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The Roman Forum is a rectangular forum (plaza) surrounded by the ruins of several important ancient government buildings at the center of the city of Rome. Citizens of the ancient city referred to this space, originally a marketplace, as the Forum Magnum, or simply the Forum.

It was for centuries the center of Roman public life: the site of triumphal processions and elections; the venue for public speeches, criminal trials, and gladiatorial matches; and the nucleus of commercial affairs. Here statues and monuments commemorated the city's great men. The teeming heart of ancient Rome, it has been called the most celebrated meeting place in the world, and in all history.[1] Located in the small valley between the Palatine and Capitoline Hills, the Forum today is a sprawling ruin of architectural fragments and intermittent archaeological excavations attracting 4.5 million sightseers yearly.

Many of the oldest and most important structures of the ancient city were located on or near the Forum. The Roman kingdom's earliest shrines and temples were located on the southeastern edge. These included the ancient former royal residence, the Regia (8th century BC), and the Temple of Vesta (7th century BC), as well as the surrounding complex of the Vestal Virgins, all of which were rebuilt after the rise of imperial Rome.

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We walked through to The Colosseum. It Is also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre. It is an oval amphitheatre in the centre of the city of Rome. Built of concrete and sand, it is the largest amphitheatre ever built. The Colosseum is situated just east of the Roman Forum. Construction began under the emperor Vespasian in AD 72, and was completed in AD 80 under his successor and heir Titus.[3] Further modifications were made during the reign of Domitian (81–96). These three emperors are known as the Flavian dynasty, and the amphitheatre was named in Latin for its association with their family name (Flavius).

The Colosseum could hold, it is estimated, between 50,000 and 80,000 spectators, having an average audience of some 65,000; it was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles (for only a short time as the hypogeum was soon filled in with mechanisms to support the other activities), animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical mythology. The building ceased to be used for entertainment in the early medieval era. It was later reused for such purposes as housing, workshops, quarters for a religious order, a fortress, a quarry, and a Christian shrine.

Although partially ruined because of damage caused by earthquakes and stone-robbers, the Colosseum is still an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome. It is one of Rome's most popular tourist attractions and also has links to the Roman Catholic Church, as each Good Friday the Pope leads a torchlit "Way of the Cross" procession that starts in the area around the Colosseum.

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SATURDAY 7 JANUARY 2017 - travel to the port of Cittavechia to start our 12 day cruise of the Eastern Mediterranean. We return to Rome on 19 January so I will complete the second half of our stay in Rome for the three days we have back here.

Posted by Kangatraveller 07:26 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

PARIS - WELCOMING IN THE NEW YEAR

Home for 6 nights - a little 6th floor studio just off the Champs Élysées on the Rue Marbeuf

THURSDAY 29 - Air France to Paris
Travel day and moving into our Studio for the next 6 nights. We soon found the Carrefour Central Market just around the corner. After the Scenic Cruise we just wanted some plain old home cooking. Colleen made a beautiful Spaghetti Bolognaise ( a la Arrabiata).

Our little Studio looks like the top levels in the photo. There is a skylight and two skylight type windows which can open manually. They do open with a remote control and have electrically operated shutters. I finally mastered the use of this.

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The lift operates to the fifth floor. Unfortunately, we are on the 6th floor. We enter our front door on the 5th floor and struggle up 18 steps of a narrow spiral staircase to our landing.

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FRIDAY 30 December. - A day at the Musee Le Louvre

The Louvre or the Louvre Museum is the world's largest museum and a historic monument in Paris, France. A central landmark of the city, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the city's 1st arrondissement (district or ward). Nearly 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century are exhibited over an area of 72,735 square metres.The Louvre is the world's second most visited museum after the Palace Museum in China, receiving more than 10 million visitors.

The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace, originally built as a fortress in the late 12th century under Philip II. Remnants of the fortress are visible in the basement of the museum. Due to the urban expansion of the city, the fortress eventually lost its defensive function and, in 1546, was converted by Francis I into the main residence of the French Kings. The building was extended many times to form the present Louvre Palace. In 1682, Louis XIV chose the Palace of Versailles for his household, leaving the Louvre primarily as a place to display the royal collection, including, from 1692, a collection of ancient Greek and Roman sculpture. In 1692, the building was occupied by the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres and the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, which in 1699 held the first of a series of salons. The Académie remained at the Louvre for 100 years. During the French Revolution, the National Assembly decreed that the Louvre should be used as a museum to display the nation's masterpieces.

The museum opened on 10 August 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings, the majority of the works being royal and confiscated church property. Because of structural problems with the building, the museum was closed in 1796 until 1801. The collection was increased under Napoleon and the museum renamed the Musée Napoléon, but after Napoleon's abdication many works seized by his armies were returned to their original owners. The collection was further increased during the reigns of Louis XVIII and Charles X, and during the Second French Empire the museum gained 20,000 pieces. Holdings have grown steadily through donations and bequests since the Third Republic. The collection is divided among eight curatorial departments: Egyptian Antiquities; Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Sculpture; Decorative Arts; Paintings; Prints and Drawings.

We thought Friday may have been a quieter day. How wrong we were! Throngs pushed and shoved to get a view of the Mona Lisa.

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Here are some views from the Louvre including some of our favourite artists.The Veronese is the large painting on the opposite wall to the very very small Mona Lisa.

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Some photos of the Greek treasures include Aphrodite - Venus de Milo, sculptures from the Temple of Artemis and much more.

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Here are some photos taken around the Louvre.

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The Champs Élysées

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SATURDAY 31 DECEMBER - The Flea Market at Clingancourt and Sacre Coeur, Montmartre and Pigalle.

The Flea Market was reached through one change of subway. It was hardly worth the effort.

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Next was the Metro to Abesses with one lift and many staircases.

We went to see Sacre Coeur at Montmatre. This area around the Cathedral is very arty.

This is the hard way up to Montmarte with more than 100 steps.

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The easier way was the way we went on the Funicular.
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Here are some street scenes around Montmatre.

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The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, commonly known as Sacré-Cœur Basilica and often simply Sacré-Cœur, is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Paris, France. A popular landmark, the basilica is located at the summit of the butte Montmartre, the highest point in the city. Sacré-Cœur is a double monument, political and cultural, both a national penance for the defeat of France in the 1871 Franco-Prussian War and the socialist Paris Commune of 1871 crowning its most rebellious neighborhood, and an embodiment of conservative moral order, publicly dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which was an increasingly popular vision of a loving and sympathetic Christ.

The Sacré-Cœur Basilica was designed by Paul Abadie. Construction began in 1875 and was finished in 1914. It was consecrated after the end of World War I in 1919.

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Here is the stunning view over Paris from the steps of Sacre Coeur Basilica.
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Naturally, there is an Irish Pub close by.

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Our nearest Metro station on the Champs Élysées is Franklin D Roosevelt. The police had closed down the roads within two hundred metres. Police tow trucks hauled away any cars parked near the taped off areas.

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NEW YEAR'S DAY - 1 JANUARY 2017 - A walk down the Champs Élysées and two art galleries - The L'ORANGERI and MUSEE D'ORSAY

We thought we would walk down the Champs Élysées this morning at 10.00 am to see the parade. If there was one then we missed it. The Police had closed off the whole Avenue.

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The Metro and buses were cancelled we walked down to the Place Concorde. This is where the Egyptian Obelisk is sited. The Obelisk was taken as booty by Napoleon on his Egyptian campaign. The Luxor Obelisk is over 3,000 years old and was originally situated outside of Luxor Temple, where its twin remains to this day. It first arrived in Paris on December 21, 1833, having been shipped from Luxor via Alexandria and Cherbourg, and three years later, on October 25, 1836, was moved to the center of Place de la Concorde by King Louis-Phillipe. It was gifted to France by Muhammad Ali, Khedive of Egypt.
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During the French Revolution the statue of Louis XV of France was torn down and the area renamed Place de la Révolution. The new revolutionary government erected the guillotine in the square, and it was here that King Louis XVI was executed on 21 January 1793. Th site of the guillotine is right in front of the Obelisk.

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We visited the L'Orangerie. The Musée de l'Orangerie is an art gallery of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings located in the west corner of the Tuileries Gardens next to the Place de la Concorde in Paris. Though most famous for being the permanent home for eight Water Lilies murals by Claude Monet, the museum also contains works by Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri Rousseau, Alfred Sisley, Chaim Soutine, and Maurice Utrillo, among others.

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Water Lilies (or Nymphéas, French) is a series of approximately 250 oil paintings by French Impressionist Claude Monet (1840–1926). The paintings depict Monet's flower garden at his home in Giverny, and were the main focus of Monet's artistic production during the last thirty years of his life. Many of the works were painted while Monet suffered from cataracts.

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Here are a few of our favourite paintings from this collection.

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We walked over the Seine to the Musee D'Orsay. The Musée d'Orsay is a museum in Paris, France, on the left bank of the Seine. It is housed in the former Gare d'Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway station built between 1898 and 1900. The museum holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1914, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photography. It houses the largest collection of impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces in the world, by painters including Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguin, and Van Gogh. Many of these works were held at the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume prior to the museum's opening in 1986. It is one of the largest art museums in Europe.

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Here are some of our favourites from this Museum.
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Our Metro at Franklin D Roosevelt was still closed so we travelled on to George V and walked back to Rue Marbeuf.

The Champs Élysées was a beautiful sight at night.

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MONDAY 2 JANUARY 2017 - The big sleep in and the afternoon at the National Monument, the Pantheon.

A church had been built on this site since 507.

The Panthéon is a building in the Latin Quarter in Paris. It was originally built as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve and to house the reliquary châsse containing her relics but, after many changes, now functions as a secular mausoleum containing the remains of distinguished French citizens. It is an early example of neoclassicism, with a façade modeled on the Pantheon in Rome, surmounted by a dome that owes some of its character to Bramante's Tempietto. Located in the 5th arrondissement on the Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, the Panthéon looks out over all of Paris. Designer Jacques-Germain Soufflot had the intention of combining the lightness and brightness of the Gothic cathedral with classical principles, but its role as a mausoleum required the great Gothic windows to be blocked.

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The inscription above the entrance reads AUX GRANDS HOMMES LA PATRIE RECONNAISSANTE ( "To great men, the grateful homeland"). By burying its great people in the Panthéon, the nation acknowledges the honour it received from them. As such, interment here is severely restricted and is allowed only by a parliamentary act for "National Heroes". Similar high honours exist in Les Invalides for historical military leaders such as Napoléon, Turenne and Vauban.

Foucault's pendulum is located in the nave. The first public exhibition of a Foucault pendulum took place in February 1851 in the Meridian of the Paris Observatory. A few weeks later, Foucault made his most famous pendulum when he suspended a 28-kg brass-coated lead bob with a 67-m-long wire from the dome of the Panthéon, Paris. The plane of the pendulum's swing rotated clockwise 11° per hour, making a full circle in 32.7 hours. The original bob used in 1851 at the Panthéon was moved in 1855 to the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers in Paris. A second temporary installation was made for the 50th anniversary in 1902.

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Among those buried in its necropolis are Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Émile Zola, Jean Moulin, Louis Braille, Jean Jaurès and Soufflot, its architect. In 1907 Marcellin Berthelot was buried with his wife Mme Sophie Berthelot, the first woman to be interred. Marie Curie was the first woman interred based on her own merits. Marie Curie received two Nobel Prizes - Physics and Chemistry 13 years apart. Geneviève de Gaulle-Anthonioz and Germaine Tillion, heroines of the French resistance, were interred in 2015.

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TUESDAY 3 JANUARY 2017 - Hotel des Invalides, Musee de L'Armee and the Arc de Triomphe

Les Invalides, commonly known as Hôtel National des Invalides (The National Residence of the Invalids), or also as Hôtel des Invalides, is a complex of buildings in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, France, containing museums and monuments, all relating to the military history of France, as well as a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans, the building's original purpose. The buildings house the Musée de l'Armée, the military museum of the Army of France, the Musée des Plans-Reliefs, and the Musée d'Histoire Contemporaine, as well as the Dôme des Invalides, a large church with the burial site for some of France's war heroes, most notably Napoleon Bonaparte.

Louis XIV initiated the project by an order dated 24 November 1670, as a home and hospital for aged and unwell soldiers: the name is a shortened form of hôpital des invalides. The architect of Les Invalides was Libéral Bruant. The selected site was in the then suburban plain of Grenelle (plaine de Grenelle). By the time the enlarged project was completed in 1676, the river front measured 196 metres (643 ft) and the complex had fifteen courtyards, the largest being the cour d'honneur ("court of honour") for military parades. It was then felt that the veterans required a chapel. Jules Hardouin-Mansart assisted the aged Bruant, and the chapel was finished in 1679 to Bruant's designs after the elder architect's death. This chapel was known as Église Saint-Louis des Invalides, and daily attendance of the veterans in the church services was required. Interestingly, the architect was only twenty years of age.

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Shortly after the veterans' chapel was completed, Louis XIV commissioned Mansart to construct a separate private royal chapel referred to as the Église du Dôme from its most striking feature (see below). The domed chapel was finished in 1708.

The Dôme des Invalides (originally Chapelle royale des Invalides) is a large former church in the centre of the Les Invalides complex.

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The dôme was designated to become Napoleon's funeral place in a law dated 10 June 1840. The excavation and erection of the crypt, that heavily modified the interior of the domed church, took twenty years to complete and was finished in 1861.

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Inspired by St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, the original for all baroque domes, the Dôme des Invalides is one of the triumphs of French Baroque architecture. Mansart raised its drum with an attic storey over its main cornice, and employed the paired columns motif in his more complicated rhythmic theme. The general programme is sculptural but tightly integrated, rich but balanced, consistently carried through, capping its vertical thrust firmly with a ribbed and hemispherical dome. The domed chapel is centrally placed to dominate the court of honour.

The most notable tomb at Les Invalides is that of Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821). Napoleon was initially interred on Saint Helena, but King Louis Philippe arranged for his remains to be brought to France in 1840, an event known as le retour des cendres. Napoléon's remains were first buried in the Chapelle Saint-Jérôme in the Invalides until his final resting place, a tomb made of red quartzite and resting on a green granite base, was finished in 1861.

The Musee de L'Armee is one of our he biggest in the world and featured weaponry, uniforms etc from Louis XIV through to the modern day.

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Here are some pictures of Napoleon's personal items. These include his uniform, satchel, hat and his hand guns.

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We took the a Metro back to Charles de Gaulle Etoile - the Arc de Triomphe. The second photo shows the limousines outside the State of Qatar Embassy just across from the Arc de Triomphe. Diplomatic Plates on a brace of Mercedes Benz S500s, an Audi A8 L and a big Beemer.

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Farewell to Paris in the morning when we fly Air France to a Rome for three nights then an Eastern Mediterranean Cruise then back to Rome for two more days.

Posted by Kangatraveller 10:26 Comments (0)

CHRISTMAS WONDERLAND CRUISE - AMSTERDAM TO BUDAPEST - PART 3

Melk, Austria TO Budapest, Hungary.

SATURDAY 24 DECEMBER - Melk and Durnstein, Austria.

Melk Abbey is a Benedictine abbey above the town of Melk, Lower Austria, Austria, on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Danube river, adjoining the Wachau valley. The abbey contains the tomb of Saint Coloman of Stockerau and the remains of several members of the House of Babenberg, Austria's first ruling dynasty. The Abbey was constructed initially in 1089 and then in 1702 and for the next 34 years was changed into the Baroque style.

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The Abbey was founded in 1089 when Leopold II, Margrave of Austria gave one of his castles to Benedictine monks from Lambach Abbey. A monastic school, the Stiftsgymnasium Melk, was founded in the 12th century, and the monastic library soon became renowned for its extensive manuscript collection. The monastery's scriptorium was also a major site for the production of manuscripts. In the 15th century the abbey became the centre of the Melk Reform movement which reinvigorated the monastic life of Austria and Southern Germany.

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We attended mass at 10.00pm in the lovely village church in Durnstein.

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SUNDAY 25 DECEMBER - treavelling Durnstein to Vienna.

Happy Christmas everyone.
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MONDAY 26 DECEMBER 2016 - A Day in Vienna - City Tour and a Concert at the Palace Liechtenstein tonight.

Vienna, Austria’s capital, lies in the country’s east on the Danube River. Its artistic and intellectual legacy was shaped by residents including Mozart, Beethoven and Sigmund Freud. The city is also known for its Imperial palaces, including Schönbrunn, the Habsburgs’ summer residence. In the MuseumsQuartier district, historic and contemporary buildings display works by Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt and other artists.

We walked through the city centre. Here are some photos.

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St Stephen's Cathedral was damaged in WW2.

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The perfect way to finish a long walk is to enjoy the best coffee in the world.

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Liechtenstein Palace was built in the early eighteenth century as a summer palace for the Liechtenstein family. Today it is home to the Liechtenstein Museum, which displays a private collection of paintings and sculptures in a sumptuous Baroque setting.

The Princely House of Liechtenstein was one of the wealthiest aristocratic families in Vienna. In the seventeenth century they built two palaces in the city, one in the Bankgasse in the center of the city (known as the Stadtpalais Liechtenstein) and a gartenpalais in Alsergrund, at the time a rural area just north of the city. The gartenpalais (garden palace) was used by the family during summertime, while the family lived in the stadtpalais (city palace) during the winter.

The summer palace was commissioned at the end of the seventeenth century by Prince Johann Adam Andreas I of Liechtenstein. It was completed in 1709 by the Italian architect Domenico Martinelli, who was also responsible for the Stadtpalais Liechtenstein in the Bankgasse. The exterior of the summer palace is sober, inspired by the classical designs of Roman villas. The interior is more elaborate, with a Baroque design and plenty of lively frescoes and paintings.

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TUESDAY 27 DECEMBER - BRATISLAVA, CAPITAL OF SLOVAKIA.

Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, is set along the Danube River by the border with Austria and Hungary. It’s surrounded by vineyards and the Little Carpathian mountains, crisscrossed with forested hiking and cycling trails. The pedestrian-only, 18th-century old town is known for its lively bars and cafes. Perched atop a hill, the reconstructed Bratislava Castle overlooks old town and the Danube.

It was a day of sunshine and mostly clear skies. However, the wind was vicious and cuttingly cold.

The A4 from Wien to Bratislava is largely 60 kilometres crossing rich farmland with numerous wind farms. There are many crossovers over the highway for wild life.
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Here is a photo of the castle at Bratislava. The photo after shows the Holocaust Memorial and the black marble wall depicting the synagogue. The Russians built a new bridge over the Danube and in the process levelled the Jewish Quarter.

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The old town has numerous sculptures as public art.

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I sought refuge from the cold in a cafe to have coffee and some home made cabbage soup.

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This is the Primate's Palace built in the 17 th century. Napoleon signed peace treaties here on four separate occasions and failed to keep any of them.

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WEDNESDAY 28 DECEMBER - BUDAPEST.

We had a fabulous guide to show us some of the highlights of Budapest. Budapest, Hungary’s capital, is bisected by the River Danube. Its 19th-century Chain Bridge connects the hilly Buda district with flat Pest. A funicular runs up Castle Hill to Buda’s Old Town, where the Budapest History Museum traces city life from Roman times onward. Trinity Square is home to 13th-century Matthias Church and the turrets of the Fishermen’s Bastion, which offer sweeping views.

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We had a concert featuring some of the music of Franz Liszt in an old hall in a church run school for the blind.

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We stopped at the Heroes Square. The central column celebrates the seven tribes that migrated from Western Siberia to the country over 1000 years ago. Laid out in 1896 to mark the thousandth anniversary of Hungary, Heroes' Square is the largest and most impressive square of the city. Located at the end of Andrássy Avenue and next to City Park, Heroes’ Square is one of the most visited sights in Budapest. Surrounded by two important buildings, Museum of Fine Arts on the left and Kunsthalle (Hall of Art) on the right, Heroes’ Square is also a station of the Millennium Underground.

The Millennium Monument in the middle of the square was erected to commemorate the 1000-year-old history of the Magyars. Archangel Gabriel stands on top of the center pillar, holding the holy crown and the double cross of Christianity. The seven chieftains who led the Magyar tribes to Hungary can be seen on the stand below. Statues of kings and other important historical figures stand on top of the colonnades on either side of the center pillar.

When the monument was originally constructed, Hungary was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and thus the last five spaces for statues on the left of the colonnade were reserved for members of the ruling Habsburg dynasty. The Habsburg emperors were replaced with Hungarian freedom fighters when the monument was rebuilt after World War II.

In 1989 a crowd of 250,000 gathered at the square for the reburial of Imre Nagy, former Prime Minister of Hungary, who was executed in 1958.
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After dinner our ship did an illuminations tour along the Danube be. Budapest would have toe the prettiest city at night.

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THURSDAY 29 DECEMBER - an early tart to catch an Air France flight to Paris for the next week.

Posted by Kangatraveller 12:25 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

CHRISTMAS WONDERLAND CRUISE - AMSTERDAM TO BUDAPEST PART 2

Wurzburg to Vienna

overcast 2 °C

MONDAY 19 DECEMBER - the Romantic Road to Rothenburg.

An early start today as we disembark at 8.30 am. It is still before sunrise. Our journey today was to Rothenburg via the Romantic Road.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a town in the district of Ansbach of Mittelfranken (Middle Franconia), the Franconia region of Bavaria, Germany. It is well known for its well-preserved medieval old town, a destination for tourists from around the world. It is part of the popular Romantic Road through southern Germany.

Rothenburg was a Free Imperial City from the late Middle Ages to 1803.

The road itself is sometimes little more than a single lane as it wends its way through small villages.

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If you were wondering what fuel cost, here it is.
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The medieval town of Rothenburg was founded in 1170.

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This is the dunking machine. Merchants who short changed customers and were found out suffered the consequence.
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The carts in the picture below were used in movies here. Rothenburg has appeared in several films, notably fantasies. It was the inspiration for the village in the 1940 Walt Disney movie Pinocchio. It was the location for the Vulgarian village scenes in the 1968 family movie, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
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We have tasted many Bavarian food delights.

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TUESDAY 21 DECEMBER - on the Main-Danube Canal enroute to Bamberg. The Rhine–Main–Danube Canal in Bavaria, Germany, connects the Main and the Danube rivers across the European Watershed, running from Bamberg via Nuremberg to Kelheim. The canal connects the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean to the Black Sea, providing a navigable artery between the Rhine delta (at Rotterdam in the Netherlands), and the Danube Delta in south-eastern Romania and south-western Ukraine (or Constanța, through the Danube–Black Sea Canal). The present canal was completed in 1992 and is 171 kilometres long.

Here are some pictures we took this morning at 8.30 am with the temperature at -4 degrees and ice on the canal.
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Bamberg is a town in northern Bavaria, Germany, laid out over 7 hills where the Regnitz and Main rivers meet. Its old town preserves structures from the 11th to 19th centuries including the muraled Altes Rathaus, which occupies an island in the Regnitz reached by arched bridges. The Romanesque Bamberg Cathedral, begun in the 11th century, features 4 towers and numerous stone carvings.

Here is the Cathedral. The second picture shows the old Bishop's Palace used by the Bishops up to 1700 and the third picture is the new Bishop's Palace used after 1700.

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The Old Town Hall in Bamberg is quite a curiosity: The frescoes that adorn the facades are as amazing as the story behind the building's construction.

According to legend the bishop of Bamberg did not grant the citizens any land for the construction of a town hall. This prompted the townsfolk to ram stakes into the river Regnitz to create an artificial island, on which they built the town hall they so badly wanted.

The Old Town Hall's frescoes never fail to impress as they lend the facades a three-dimensional quality achieved with trompe d'oeil architecture. A special detail is a continual source of mirth among tourists: the leg of a cherub protudes out of the wall as a sculpture.

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WEDNESDAY 21 DECEMBER - NUREMBURG
Nuremberg is a city on the river Pegnitz and the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal in the German state of Bavaria, in the administrative region of Middle Franconia, about 170 kilometres north of Munich. It is the second-largest city in Bavaria (after Munich), and the largest in Franconia.

Here is a picture of one of the 6 places the canal goes over the top of the highway.

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Nuremberg was the centre of the rise of Hitler and the National Socialists. 90 % of Nuremberg was heavily damaged through bombings and house to house fighting.

The pictures below are of the Zeppelinfield, the site of the Nuremberg rallies.

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The Kongresshalle looms over Nuremberg like a misplaced relic of ancient Rome. Designed by Franz and Ludwig Ruff in 1935, it was to have been the centerpiece of the vast Nazi party rally grounds, flanked by triumphal parade-grounds and stadiums.

Once designs for the structure were complete, construction was started in earnest and on a vast scale: the completed Kongresshalle would have seated 50,000. One of the centerpieces of Hitler’s fantasy of a thousand-year Reich, its colonnades and layers of archways were designed to echo the Coliseum in Rome - another symbol of an empire triumphant.

The Second World War diverted attention away from the project, and the Kongresshalle was never completed. The building only reached about half its planned height of 70 meters . Much of the interior was Kongresshalle survived the war - and it was landmarked in its half-built state. Today, an exhibition on ‘Fascination and Terror’ is shown in one of its wings, and it can be visited along with the remains of the Nuremberg rally grounds.

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Nuremberg f known for he war crimes trial. This is Reichmarshal Herman Goering who heard nothing, saw nothing and knew nothing.

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THURSDAY 22 DECEMBER - REGENSBURG

Regensburg, a Bavarian city on the Danube River in southeast Germany, is known for its well-preserved medieval core. The 12th-century Stone Bridge, a 310m-long icon with 16 arches, crosses the river to the old town. The 13th-century Regensburg Cathedral, a twin-spired Gothic landmark, is home to the Regensburger Domspatzen choir. Walhalla, a Parthenon replica just east of the city, honors illustrious Germans.

This is the oldest stone bridge crossing a river and in Europe. The picture below it is the southern side of the river where the whole area was blown up by Napoleon Bonaparte so these buildings are only 200 years old.

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The old city gate at the bridge end into the north side of the Danube.

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The Cathedral was started in 1237 and finished 600 years later. Regensburg as never bombed so he Cathedral and the glass windows are original.

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FRIDAY 23 DECEMBER- SALZBURG ( 2 hours by bus from Passau, Germany then 2 hours to catch up with our ship at Linz, Austria)

Salzburg is the fourth-largest city in Austria and the capital of the federal state of Salzburg.

Salzburg's "Old Town" (Altstadt) is internationally renowned for its baroque architecture and is one of the best-preserved city centers north of the Alps. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. The city has three universities and a large population of students. Tourists also frequent the city to tour the city's historic center and the scenic Alpine surroundings.

Salzburg was the birthplace of 18th-century composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In the mid‑20th century, the city was the setting for the musical play and film The Sound of Music.

We left early at 8.00 am and had to be careful boarding the coach because of the very slippery black area ice.

This is what we he front of our coach looked last Je an hour later.

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We stopped at the HellbrunnerPalace, home of the Prince Bishops.

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Then we went to the Mirrabel a palace gardens. This was built by one of the Prince Bishops for his mistress who bore him 15 children. In the background you can see the HohenSalzburg fortress.

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In the afternoon we went up to a chalet 1001 metres up a mountain near Salzburg for a Sound of Music Show. We were greeted by horns, then the show with the largest musical instrument and then he smallest musical instrument.

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View from the mountain.

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Tomorrow we will visit the Monastery at Melk and then sail on to Durnstein. Durnstein Fortress was where Richard the Lionheart was imprisioned by Leopoldo, the 5th Duke of Austria. For this, Leopoldo was excommunicated by Pope Celestine 111.

Posted by Kangatraveller 12:49 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

CHRISTMAS WONDERLAND CRUISE - AMSTERDAM TO BUDAPEST - PART 1

PART 1 of 3 of 16 days of a balcony suite as we traverse the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers

Hi, I've mapped my trips on Travellerspoint and would like to share the link with you.

Link: https://secure.travellerspoint.com/member_map.cfm?user=Kangatraveller&tripid=971871

Wednesday 14 December was a lazy day of transferring to the Scenic Amber. Launched in 2016, Scenic Amber has capacity for 169 passengers and 51 crew. This all-suite river ship (called "Space Ships" by the company) offers a contemporary cruising experience which will likely appeal to a younger demographic as well as long-time river cruise fans. As is the case with all Scenic ships, fares include all meals and drinks, butler service, airport transfers, gratuities and shore excursions geared to three different energy levels: relaxed, moderate and active.

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This morning we had a tour out into the country to Zaanse Schans and Edam. Zaanse Schans is a neighbourhood of Zaandam, near Zaandijk in the Netherlands.

This is the road to Zaanse Schans at 9.30 am. The whole day was cloudy and fog.
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It has a collection of well-preserved historic windmills and houses. From 1961 to 1974 old buildings from all over the Zaanstreek (nl) were relocated using lowboy trailers to the area. The Zaans Museum, established in 1994, is located in the Zaanse.

We went inside a working windmill that has been operating since 1672.
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We saw clog making. People still wear clogs in parts of the countryside. They are made out of English Willow. Wooden upper clogs; are made by hollowing out a lump of solid wood to make a combined upper and lower. Whole foot clogs; where the wooden upper covers the whole of the foot to near the ankle, are the familiar Dutch klomp. They are also known as "wooden shoes". Whole foot clogs can give sufficient protection to be used as safety footwear without additional reinforcements.

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Next we visited Edam. Edam is a semi-hard cheese that originated in the Netherlands, and is named after the town of Edam in the province of North Holland. Edam is traditionally sold in rounded cylinders with a pale yellow interior and a coat, or rind, of red paraffin wax. Edam ages and travels well, and does not spoil; it only hardens. These qualities (among others) made it the world's most popular cheese between the 14th and 18th centuries, both at sea and in remote colonies.

We saw the oldest house in this town. It was built in 1555.
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Wooden houses were outlawed in the 17 th century because if the high incidences of fire. This is the only remaining wooden house in Edam.
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Edam was granted the right to hold cheese Markets twice a week. This is the cheese weighing Station and in the square in front was the marketplace.
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FRIDAY 16 December - Crusing into COLOGNE in the afternoon.

We chose to go to the Neanderthal Museum. Neanderthal Museum is a museum in Mettmann, Germany. Located at the site of the first Neanderthal man discovery in the Neandertal, it features an exhibit centered on human evolution.

The museum gives a background of the migration of people from the savannas to the modern cities with emphasis of Neanderthals. Their life size models are cast and exhibited on the basis of fossils excavated from archaeological sites. The exhibits are displayed in the four floors of the building which are interconnected through a spiraling ramp. At the beginning of the ramp, in the first section, there are exhibits on the history of the Neanderthal named "A valley and its Secret", which provides information on relics of the skeleton of the Neanderthal. The next exhibit, “A journey through time”, is about crucial stages of human history. Based on the main subject "Evolution of Humankind", the thematic areas spread over five sections exhibit sequentially the "Life and Survival", "Tools and Knowledge", "Myth and Religion", Environment and Nourishment" and "Communication and Society".

Here we are arriving in Cologne.
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The Neanderthal Museum is outside de Düsseldorf. Apparently all people except for Africa cans and Australian Aboriginesave between 4 to 9% Neanderthal genes.im
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SATURDAY 17 DECEMBER - Sailing to Ruedesheim through the beautiful Rhine Gorges.

The Rhine Gorge is a popular name for the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, a 65 km section of the River Rhine between Koblenz and Bingen in Germany. It was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in June 2002 for a unique combination of geological, historical, cultural and industrial reasons.

The region's rocks were laid down in the Devonian period and are known as Rhenish Facies. This is a fossil-bearing sedimentary rock type consisting mainly of slate. The rocks underwent considerable folding during the Carboniferous period. The gorge was carved out during a much more recent uplift to leave the river contained within steep walls 200 m high, the most famous feature being the Loreley.

Pfalzgrafenstein Castle is a toll castle on the Falkenau island, otherwise known as Pfalz Island in the Rhine river near Kaub, Germany. Known as "the Pfalz," this former stronghold is famous for its picturesque and unique setting.

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This afternoon we docked in Rüdesheim. It lies at the foot of the Niederwald on the Rhine's right (east) bank on the southern approach to the Lorelei. The town belongs to the Frankfurt Rhine Main Region and is one of Germany's biggest tourist attractions. Only Cologne Cathedral draws more tourists from other countries. In fact this town of 10,500 draws 3 million visitors a year.

Rudesheim is a little town on the banks of the Rhine in Germany, an hour west of Frankfurt. The population is officially 10,000, but the town is always crowded and busy. Three million tourists visit annually and a big part of the attraction is Siegfried's Mechanical Music Museum.

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Anyone interested in the reproduction of music, anyone who loves the interaction of cogs and wheels and levers and shafts, will regard this place as Valhalla on a carefully turned and polished stick. Siegfried Wendel started the museum in 1969 after years of combing dumps for anything musical, from music boxes to massive orchestrions built for fairgrounds, and invested a lot more time getting it all working again. There is nothing electronic in here: it's all steam or clockwork, some of it hand-cranked. So it's intensely mechanical, with things that whir and reciprocate and pump lots of air. There are panels that open and close, and figures that move in time to the music, and even seem to play it.

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The next machine, the Phonoliszt Violina, is flat-out astonishing. It looks like a pianola with a second storey on top, and when Rebecca throws the lever it sounds like one, too. Except there are strings coming in. At first I figure this is a modern device secreted somewhere to give the music a bit more ambience, but then she opens the curved doors of the second level. There are half a dozen violins in here mounted vertically, the bowing done by a revolving wheel, the fingering by little rounded plungers. Think hard about how all this coordinates so perfectly.

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We took the chairlift up to Nederwald. This is just below a large monument, Germanic, that celebrate the unification f the states to Germany in 1870-1871. we passed over large vineyards with the weeds green and the vines dormant.

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SUNDAY 18 DECEMBER - a Zither Concert in the morning with Tomy Temerson (one of only five masters of this instrument) and Oktoberfest in the afternoon.

Zithers are played by strumming or plucking the strings, either with the fingers (sometimes using an accessory called a plectrum or pick), sounding the strings with a bow, or, with varieties of the instrument like the santur or cimbalom, by beating the strings with specially shaped hammers. Like a guitar or lute, a zither's body serves as a resonating chamber (sound box), but, unlike guitars and lutes, a zither lacks a distinctly separate neck assembly. The number of strings varies, from one to more than fifty. Tomy's Zither was made in 1928 and has 42 strings.

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It was a short 15 minute ride to Freudenburg for the Oktoberfest - lederhosen, beer, schnapps, beer, Bavarian food and more beer and music.

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Here are the Schnapps.
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We took the coach to Wertheim to see the Christmas Markets.
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In the morning we sail to Wurzburg to travel the Romantic Road.

This is the first of three instalments of our Scenic River Cruise.

Posted by Kangatraveller 12:07 Comments (0)

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