Greenwich Park; designed by the French botanist LeNotre in the 1600's, it also beacme a battle ground during WWII as antiaircraft guns were placed in the flower gardens to protect the city against German bombers that raided London.
The 1700's were a prolific time for scientific minds. A group of Royal Astronomers were tasked with solving the problem of sailing ships' navigation on the open sea. Their work resulted in the calculation of time and longitude that we use today.
This dry docked tea clipper was the fastest clipper the world had ever known until the era of steam ships.
One of the few places on Earth where you can shop along the full length of a bridge.
The garden where Herschel discovered Uranus, 1781.
Stroll next door to visit the ancient Roman baths that give this town its name!
Arriving at Gatwick after a lovely flight on Virgin Atlantic, we took the express train to our hotel in Victoria Station to discover it was a horrible little dungheap. Hopped across the street to find a beautiful room at Asters on Ebury and slept off jet lag. Found a pink cake shop and toured the cloudy city by open air bus.
We swiftly set out conquering London's sights: Paying homage to Charles Darwin at his tomb in Westminster Abbey, saluting the silent Big Ben whose bells won't toll again until he is restored in 2021. Buckingham was less 'Palace' than expected. We inhaled the international scents of London; tandoori, meat pies, hooka smoke and coffee while being pelted with raindrops as we crossed the muddy Thames. Ending the day with the Lion King in the West End and some odd gummy candies.
London's dazzling skyline and congested streets made me realize that I shall always be a country-mouse at heart and Bath proved to be a more sustainable pace for me. However, I wouldn't miss the history of London for anything and my visit to the Royal Observatory renewed my admiration for the scientific marvels London has shared with the world.
Westminster Abbey, cathedral and final resting place of great minds Isaac Asimov and Charles Darwin.
Even though I don't love city life, Paris is very special to me. A walkable city with fabulous metro lines and helpful citizens make navigating the city a breeze. Veer off the main streets and spend an afternoon in the former home of famed painter Eugene Delacroix.
Truly, this city is as sexy as it gets; the slower pace of life, the casual, confident eye-contact of the citizens and their classy attire makes you feel an intimate connection to Parisians and their city. It is a melting pot of cultures, each adding a special zest. We had the pleasure of meeting a Senegalese immigrant who spoke 6 languages. Interesting that Europe seems to feel that immigrants make their culture richer and recognize that citizens of other nations bring their expertise and enhance their host nation.
A visit to Bruges is sure to remind you of fairytales...cobblestoned streets and gothic architecture take you back to the early 1400's. Ornate churches tower over narrow canals and quaint brick homes. A nightmare lurks in the church's shadow as well; a local torture museum, complete with was figurines a more lifelike and chilling effect. It reminds visitors of the ugly side of Belgium life in the past.
If you think of Belgium, you likely think of their chocolates (and indeed, there are literally dozens of chocolate shops in Bruges alone and the treats are crafted into naughty and whimsical shapes. See photos in Gallery below). Beer is another trademark item here...they even make candles shaped like brews to remind everyone of their famed craft. What I hadn't expected was the carillon, a musical instrument housed in the local church that sounds like a combination of bells and chimes. It is played like a piano but notes are struck with fists, not fingers. The sound is powerful...in the way a jackhammer compels your attention.
Among the most lovely features of Bruges; the canals. This city sits close by the sea and has a long history of wealth accumulated by seafaring trade.
Escaping the chill of northern European countries we return to the sundrenched landscape of Greece. Just 40 minutes outside of Athens is Cape Sounio and the elegant Temple of Poseidon where English poet Lord Byron once carved his name. (Interestingly, the poet fell so in love with Greece that he joined her army and later died on her sunsoaked soil..what a lovely resting place.) We like to stay at Aegeon Hotel for it's proximity to the sea and to Lake Vouliagmeni.
We ventured into western Greece to see the historic town of Nafplio and the great fortress built by the Venetians in the 1600's. Access to the fortress requires visitors to climb more than 900 steps up a zigzag staircase on the side of the mountain. I am not a fan of architecture of this era, I prefer 480 BC, but I appreciate the effort. The drive from Athens was an easy 2.5 hours through orange groves and olive plantations. Despite the undiscovered diversity of the Peloponnese, our hearts pined for Central Greece and we sped along the road to Kamena Vourla for some hydrotherapy.
Athens was smouldering and swarmed with tourists..and beautiful as always. A quick stop to the Acropolis and shopping in Plaka, then it was back in the car for a drive through the harrowing labyrinth of the city center on our way up north to
To describe Delphi as an historically significant archeological site in a stunning geographical location would be accurate yet painfully incomplete. This is a location where Earth meets Heaven.
I had no idea I loved the sea. My whole life has been spent in the mountains, all I've ever known has been the smell of pines and the wind on my face from the ridge of a peak. The ocean was always a huge, powerful place where I didn't belong..until now. I finally took my first small boat ride to Lichadonisia and now I understand why fishermen love the sea..