10
May2015
0

The Shetland Islands are famous for their natural beauty, like its birds, but it also is a lovely seaside town and has some amazing prehistoric archaeological sites. The main town of Shetland is the quaint Lerwick – a beautiful stonebuilt seaside town with a great selection of pubs and restaurants and a super cute stretch of independent shops (Like the delightful Ninian http://www.ninianshetland.co.uk/index.php ). Shetland is proud of their Viking history and are a strong fishing culture. One cute architectural feature […]

08
Feb2015
0

Vienna is a beautiful beautiful city. Despite the rain on our first day, we had another day or so of wandering around the grand buildings, wide clean streets and monuments galore. Really, it looks like what we thought Paris would look like before we went there! The Hofburg winter palace was one of the highlights of the trip though. I’d kind of forgotten that Vienna was one of the capitals of the  Austro Hungarian Empire ,which existed from 1867 to 1918 […]

14
Dec2014
0

When Rob’s brother and his wife travelled around Europe a few years ago, they said their favourite city was Prague. So when our friend Ali invited us to a weekend in Prague. we said yes straight away! Capital of the Czech Republic, Prague was founded back in 1306BC, though it was called Bohemia then. It flourished during the 14th century and much of the gothic city was built then. And a beautiful city it is. The big sight to see in Prague […]

22
Jul2014
0

Earlier this year, we went for a week long trip from Luxembourg up to Amsterdam by train. Luxembourg is Europe’s third smallest country with a total population of 550,000. So its not like the Vatican, which is the smallest prinicpality in the world with a population of 839, but is bordered by Germany, France and Belgium but somehow maintained its independence. We visited its capital city – ‘Europe’s most dramatically picturesque’ – to see its ‘spectacular vistas’ according to Lonely Planet. And […]

02
Jan2014
0

Topkapi Palace was the home of the Ottoman Sultans between 1465 and 1830 – just under 400 years. The Ottoman Empire was a powerful one – at its peak  it spanned from Hungary in the north to Somalia in the south, and from Algeria in the west to Iran in the east. The palace at its largest was home to as many as 4,000 people and contained mosques, a hospital, bakeries, and a mint. As well as a royal residence, the palace was a setting for state occasions and royal entertainments. […]

24
Dec2013
0

Before we get onto our next Istanbul adventure – MERRY CHRISTMAS everyone. I hope you’re all having a wonderful time with friends and family. Rob and I are hosting a group of friends who are away from home for Christmas at our house in Cambridge. Should be a good day! But enough of that – back to Istanbul when we visited back in September. Directly opposite the Blue Mosque was the even larger Aya Sofya – a building that used […]

23
Dec2013
0

We managed to leave Oktoberfest at 8pm because we knew we had an early flight to Istanbul the next day. We planned 4 days of chilling out and wandering around exploring this fascinating city. Within an hour of being in the city, I was hooked. Why was that? We arrived just in time for evening prayers – a clear voice sings the prayers on loud speakers outside the mosques all over the city. It was beautiful and soothing. It set […]

18
Oct2013
0

We spent 4 days in the small city of Maulbronn in the region of Baden-Württemberg for James and Meike’s wedding. The reception was going to be held there, so conveniently many of us foreigners were staying there too. Perfect. But Maulbronn isn’t just a place to stay – it has its own UNESCO World Heritage Sight – Maulbronn Monastery. It’s the best-preserved medieval Cistercian monastery complex in Europe. Considering we had seen ruined monasteries in Yorkshire earlier this year (Fountain’s Abbey and Rievaulx Abbey), we […]

07
Oct2013
0

Paris was a blur (a beautiful blur, but still a blur). After a full day of wandered, J+J, Rob and I got on a train to Belgium – the land of beers and chocolate. Hoorah! First, we were in the quaint and iconic Bruges – the whole medieval town is a UNESCO world heritage site. And its easy to see why. The medieval architecture is everywhere, and looks awesome. There are also four 13th century windmills out near the waterways! […]

30
Sep2013
1

Antoni Gaudi is an amazing architect, and his greatest masterpiece has to be the incomplete Sagrada Familia. Gaudi devoted his last years to the project, and at the time of his death at age 73 in 1926 less than a quarter of the project was complete. Sagrada Familia’s construction progressed slowly, as it relied on private donations and was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War, only to resume intermittent progress in the 1950s. Despite the scaffolding, it was an impressive […]

29
Sep2013
2

Our next Spanish trip was a long weekend to Barcelona. We’d been told by so many people what an awesome city it is, and they weren’t wrong. Firstly, there’s the old stuff, like the surviving Romans columns from a 1st century Temple of Augustus – the largest Roman temple in Barcelona. There’s also a 3rd and 4th century Roman walls and gateways around Barri Gotic and La Rambla. The 13th century Barcelona Cathedral dedicated to a young virgin who suffered martyrdom […]

09
Sep2013
0

Granada is a beautiful city with great food and an encouraging drinking culture, but the real reason to go to Granada is to see Alhambra – a fortress and palace complex, initially constructed in 889AD and converted into a palace in 1333. This was the first Islamic palace we had visited and we were impressed! Let me show you why. First, its a huge fortress on top of a hill which Granada is built around. To get up there, first […]

09
Jul2013
0

In England, there are 2 long weekends in May. For the first one, our friend Richard kindly invited us up to his holiday home in Yorkshire for walks, ruins and some beers. We certainly did all three. But first, some walking. Richard took us to Studley Royal estate – a beautiful estate and water gardens built in the 19th century. A great place for some walking. The estate is beautiful, but was actually built to enhance the picturesque ruins of […]

30
Apr2013
0

For Easter this year, we wanted to go on a wee roadtrip and see some more of this country. We’ve made several trips around England, 3 to Scotland but only 1 to Wales. We’d heard that Pembrokeshire in the South West of Wales was a beautiful part of the country, so loaded the car and head off. It’s a 5 hour drive to Tenby in Pembrokeshire where we were staying, so we planned a couple of stops on a cold […]

12
Feb2013
0

Berlin has 5 amazing museums all on one island – Museum Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With the 1 day allocated for museums, we weren’t going to visit all of them, so we picked the best two – Neues Museum and Pergamon Museum. The building to the left in the picture above, the Neues Museum, was severely damaged in a series of bombings by the Allies in WWII. In the 1990’s, a British architect David Chipperfield was commissioned to […]

01
Oct2012
0

Rob is fascinated by Ancient Roman history. A magnificent society with an empire that sprawled across entire continents and then collapsed. Emperor Claudius ordered the first major Roman invasion of England in 43 AD and by 50 AD the Romans controlled most of England. In 122, rather than conquering the wild north British tribes, Emperor Hadrian built a coast to coast barricade. At 73 miles long, this was one of Rome’s greatest engineering projects. We had to see it. Housesteads Roman […]

01
Jun2012
0

During our trip in north Wales, it’s hard not to see castles. They are everywhere and it was the main reason we were in Wales! In the 13th century, King Edward I built castles in Wales as he conquered different towns and regions. That means there are plenty to see! Caernarfon Castle was our first port of call. Built in 1283 by King Edward I, it is surrounded by water on three sides. It is famous for withstanding a 1404 […]

19
May2012
0

For easter weekend, we decided to go for a roadtrip to North Wales. We had been told to expect castles, mountains and rain. We didn’t climb any mountains but weren’t disappointed on the other points. The castles were amazing and it rained most of the time we were there. But first we had to get to Wales. We convinced a couple of Rob’s friends from NZ (M&M) to join us on our wee adventure. First adventure stop was the town […]

29
May2011
0

Wiltshire is a region just below Bath that has several ancient sights to see. The two we wanted to see were Salisbury Cathedral and, of course, Stonehenge. But the cathedral first. Built in the 13th century, it’s the oldest church we’ve seen yet! It’s very typical early English Gothic style, which was quite cool to see. The outside was all darkened and decorated, but the inside was all simple and plain. The cathedral also has the tallest spire in England […]

20
May2011
0

Before we visited Bath, we thought we were going to walk into a city with Roman ruins dotted around and normal modern buildings everywhere between. We were very very wrong. Bath is *beautiful*. But in a completely unexpected way. It’s a Georgian city, meaning that most (i.e. 80%) of the architecture was built in Georgian times with Bath stone. It’s everywhere. And it’s amazing. The whole city is a World Heritage site, so any building built there now has to […]