by lesadmin· September 01, 2018· in · 1 comments
THE ITALIAN RIVIERA GENOA, CAMOGLI, & The CINQUE TERRE 1) GENOA Genoa remains an enigma to me, as I have not yet worked out its core persona. The city has a colourful history, initially profiting from piracy, and then later by funding Spanish exploration. It had a sizeable noble class with inter-clan and intercity rivalry that led to conflict and probably to its cultural ascendancy as the nobles tried to outdo each other. During the Renaissance, it became an important mercantile trading centre which had the ignoble honour of introducing the black death to Europe when the pestilence was carried on its galleons returning from the Crimea. So to me, the city reflects a menagerie of history, elegant buildings, charming piazzas, and scattered amongst these treasures narrow lanes encased either side by medieval buildings, personal washing strung out between the windows. We stayed at the Hotel Bristol Palace, an elegant Art Nouveau building which has the feeling of a noble’s mansion, and at the turn of the 20th century was the place to be seen by high society. It hosts a magnificent spiral staircase, which alone is worth a night’s stay. Unfortunately, the hotel’s demeanour is set by the high […]
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by lesadmin· August 21, 2018· in · 1 comments
A WEEK in VIENNA AUSTRIA. Central Vienna is a vibrant tourist town visited by large numbers of coach and cruise boat groups. But Vienna is also the place of open-air cafes and tea-shops serving great food and even better pastries, surrounded by ornate historic buildings. It is the place to unashamedly indulge oneself with the feeling of ‘Gemutlichkeit’. It is also a visual feast of the extreme wealth and privilege enjoyed by the Hapsburg family and their aristocracy of nobles and lords.  All this lifestyle was swept way in the conflagration of the 1st world war, leaving behind their stories  in the paintings and intricate crafted artwork of gold and precious jewels showcased in the various museums dotted around old Vienna. Most of the old town is a pedestrian way, encompassing the Graben at Stephanplatz with its horse-drawn carriages station in the north, to the centre around the Sacher hotel and Albertina museum located in the south, a 10 to 20 minute walk located within the circular ring road. It has been over 30 years that we first visited Vienna. We are a lot older now and move at a slower pace than when we were younger. As a consequence, […]
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the running of the bulls pamplona spain
The Running of the Bulls Pamplona. San Fermin Overall Impressions. . The Running of the Bulls has become the central event in the much wider religious and traditional festival of San Fermin. Look closer and there is a lot more. A spectacular opening ceremony of the Chupinazo, the solemn procession to the patron Saint Fermin, the socialite morning dance of the Alpargata, the parade of the Giants, nightly fireworks, the infernal stirring music of the brass bands which play day and night, and of course the bullfights. With 50,000 to 100,000 visitors per day invading the old part of the town, it is amazing that the Running of the Bulls has kept its fascination with the public for a personal interaction that lasts but a few moments. But danger, religion, and the underlying tradition provides an enduring cloak of authenticity, outweighing the downsides that come with the influx of such large numbers and the sleeping (and drunken revelry) in the streets. Running of the Bulls (The Encierro) schedule and route: 7th-14th July. Anyone can participate in the encierro, by turning up on the day and entering the route through the official gates at Plaza Consistorial or Plaza del Mercado before […]
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bullfight spain

Bullfight Seville

by lesadmin· June 09, 2015· in · 0 comments
Bullfight Seville Spain. – website page views
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mont saint michel at twilight

Mont St Michel

by lesadmin· June 09, 2015· in · 2 comments
Mont St Michel France -Travel Guide . Mont St Michel is a pyramid of granite rising out of the mudflats and quicksands of the Bay of Mont St Michel on the Normandy coast. Since medieval times, there has been an Abbey located around its peak, and a small village, of narrow streets and alleys that has provided food and shelter for the many pilgrims that came from all over Europe. The monument is now one of Frances most popular tourist destinations, and during the day its streets are jam- packed, but in the early morning and after the sun has set, the village streets empty and one can conjure up images of its historical past; of monks and knights and bedecked horses clattering over its cobbled streets. Most months have a peak tide that exceeds 13.5 metres when water encircles the island, inundating the surrounding fields and providing a canvas for a visually stunning landscape. But Mont St Michel is also notable as a place of many contradictions. It’s raison d’etre was its monastery a place of worship and seclusion for a religious order of monks and nuns; a centre of pilgrimage where the faithful would cross the quicksands on […]
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the first bend palio siena
The Palio, Piazza del Campo Siena. Preamble. . Siena is one of my favourite cities. The Palio is a bareback horse race with few rules that has been run each year for the last 400 years. Put them together and you have one of great emotional and spectator events on earth. To fully appreciate what this is all about, one needs to know some of its background and to view the race from a suitable vantage point. Palio Tradition. . The race consists of 10 jockeys and 10 horses, but at the emotional level it is not about them, for they are but real life Avatars for the Contradas whose insignias they carry into battle. Some 300 years ago Siena was regrouped into 17 districts, each being managed by a Contrada (brotherhood) that looked after the social welfare of its members. Civic pride and jealous rivalry has led to a complex interplay of historic allegiances and hostilities between these groups, which is fought out in the public arena of the Palio.  So, although winning the race is important, it is not the most important objective, which is that the Contrada not be beaten by their enemy as that would result […]
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venice carnival at dawn

Carnival of Venice. A Review

by lesadmin· June 08, 2015· in · 0 comments
Carnival of Venice a Review. The Carnival of Venice is as much a state of mind as it is of live theater, masked balls and spectacle. Venetians and tourists have been part of these celebrations for centuries cloaking their identity and social status (and probably behaviour) from the public behind masks and costumes. So although it has become very popular attracting tens of thousands of day visitors there still remains a feeling of authenticity, notwithstanding a visitor asking if Venice was built before or after Disneyland. . Some observations. . ♦ It may become extremely crowded around Saint Marks Square between 9:30 am till 5pm when the day visitors are present. As an example, on the first Sunday of Carnival we became completely trapped by the crowd for 1.5 hours in a side street off St Mark’s Square as we returned from a regatta fig1, at the Ponte di Rialto, for the “flight of the Angel”; which in the end we never got to see. By the way the “flight of the Angel” celebrates the high wire performance of a 16th century Turkish acrobat and his slide down a rope from the bell tower to present a floral tribute to the Doge. . ♦ The […]
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dubrovnik stradun onofrios fountain

Dubrovnik Old Town Croatia

by lesadmin· June 08, 2015· in · 0 comments
Dubrovnik, a mediaeval walled city, Croatia Preamble. The wonderment and excitement of visiting famous tourist cities of the world was fading, and I thought of other towns that might be different.  A mediaeval walled city perhaps. One that was connected to its history, with narrow winding streets, and quaint, historic houses, where in the half light between day and night one could conjure up visions of times long past. Dubrovnik, a white limestone port town situated on the Adriatic came to mind. It is after all, one of the few remaining examples of an intact mediaeval town enclosed by a great defensive wall. Dubrovnik Overview. Looking down from the small charter plane, Dubrovnik certainly looked the part, fig1. There were the narrow winding streets, the higgledy-piggledy red tiled roofs fig4, the baroque cathedral with its majestic dome, the fishing vessels in the small marina, with the sea bottom clearly visible. And flanking all of this and isolating the old town from the rest of the world was a mighty mountain on its northern side, setting its boundaries for ever. From this height, the large number of visitors that crammed the streets during peak times were not detectable, but if we looked carefully at […]
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matterhorn and zermatt
Matterhorn Switzerland and the village of Zermatt. Location, location, location is the mantra when it comes to observing spectacular landscapes.  And what better location to witness the sunrise and sunset over the iconic Matterhorn fig1, than the private room of your hotel or the hotel’s terrace over a cup of coffee and cake.  Such a panoramic view of Zermatt village surrounded by snow-capped mountain peaks, and topped by the Matterhorn can be observed from the Grandhotel Schonegg  Although this 4 star chalet style hotel is located on an elevated slope on the outskirts overlooking Zermatt, it is only a short walk from the centre of the town through a private tunnel to the hotel’s lift which transports guests 40m vertically from street level to the hotel reception. Located right next door to the Schonegg is the 3 star chalet style hotel Alpenroyal, which has near identical views and uses the same tunnel and lift. For a more intimate mountain experience with the Matterhorn fig2, one can take the cable car to the Schwarzsee station at 2583m. From here it is a 4 hour return hike to the Hornli hut at the base of the Matterhorn at 3260m with direct views […]
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French riviera town of menton
The towns of the French Riviera Cassis, St.Tropez and Menton . . I remember daydreaming in the car as we crawled back along the coastal road of the Côte d’Azur locked in a stream of endless cars.  Images of Cassis, St Tropez and Menton, drifted in and out of my mind, evoking memories of Bouillabaisse and golden reflections, outrageous yachts and la Dolce Vita, and a seaside resort of faded glory. Cassis. I liked Cassis. I found it to be a compact sleepy fishing town that tumbled down a steep hill and ended up like a funnel surrounding its small harbour, its waterfront shops spilling out onto a promenade where small fishing boats were moored. There were a lot of tourists, but during the day most took the boat tour to the nearby Calanque fjords (a series of steep walled inlets), to swim in the crystal clear waters, or to gaze at the scenery and ogle at the glitterati on their designer yachts. For the adventurous, there was rock climbing on the pinnacles that surround some beaches(see Fig3). As night fell most day visitors left Cassis, leaving the water front a delightful place, where one could chill out in a cafe […]
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